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Tighter recycling contamination levels costs councils

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One in five councils have been hit by rising costs to their recycling services over the last year because of China’s waste import restrictions, a survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) has found. 

LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World said the LGA’s report revealed councils who have been most impacted have seen their recycling costs have increased by £500,000 on average over the last year.

The loss in earnings is in line with previous warnings by the LGA.

The association said restrictions on exports to Vietnam and Malaysia could lead to further rises in costs for UK councils. Thailand has also outlined plans for a ban on waste imports.

The report said MRF gate fees had increased on average from £15 to £22 per tonne over the last year, in part due to stricter contamination demands on exports.

The LGA reiterated calls for manufacturers to contribute more to the cost of recycling and reduce hard-to-recycle materials such as black plastic trays.

Martin Tett (Con), LGA environment spokesman, said: “It’s clear that the ban by China on imported waste, which could soon be implemented from other countries, could have a marked impact on councils’ ability to recycle.

“It is essential that the government take the opportunities of the upcoming autumn Budget and publication of its resources and waste strategy to assess the financial impact of these bans on councils thoroughly, and encourage manufacturers to take up more of the responsibility for dealing with these unrecyclable materials.”

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