The environmental impact of plastic is finally receiving the attention it deserves. This is partly down to the BBC’s Blue Planet II highlighting the problem of ocean plastics, but it’s also because the Chinese government has recently imposed quality restrictions on the import of recyclable materials, in an attempt to address domestic concerns over pollution and public health.
Beijing’s move in effect closes down the export of recyclable plastics, paper and other materials from the world’s richest countries. The UK, rest of Europe, US, Australia and others have for a long time been dependent on China to take the poor quality materials that they collect and do not have the infrastructure or capacity to use themselves. Until more recycling plants are built to deal with it domestically, the UK faces a build-up of plastic waste.