China’s Green Fence initiative to combat poor quality imported waste entered its third phase in early October and for waste exporters it has ‘cemented’ China’s quality requirements. Codenamed ‘Earth Goddess – Phase III’ this phase of the Green Fence initiative will target the illegal smuggling of hazardous waste from Europe and North America while continuing to enforce the quality standard for exports of packaging waste.
Under operation Green Fence, many of the UK’s exports of waste for recycling earlier in 2013 were turned away by Chinese authorities who cited that the waste was of poor quality due to contamination with food waste and packaging labeling. This caused a shortfall in packaging PRNs in Q1 and Q2 for the UK, especially for Plastic and set the PRN base prices at unprecedented high levels.
Simon Ellin, CEO of the Recycling Association, expressed how operation Green Fence was a “wake-up call” to exporters and that the initiative has since improved the quality of its recyclate to meet the new levels of quality expectations.
“The UK recycling industry should be a partnership that also embraces all the links in the chain including the producers of the material. Local authorities in particular have a duty of care to ensure that materials picked up and re-processed by our members are of the highest quality which will facilitate a better quality output.” Added Mr Ellin.
The initiative has helped towards the UK recycling industry becoming a legitimate provider of raw materials to the international waste reprocessing community. The quality of the UK’s waste for recycling has since improved to meet China’s standards. The third phase of operation Green Fence comes in the same month that the Q3 packaging data is released by the EA. The data shows that the UK is mostly on target to meet or exceed all material group recycling targets for business, with only glass being problematic due to issues of high targets which were based upon erroneous information submitted to Defra in the 2012 recycling tonnage report.
It is clear to see from the EA data that the quality of UK waste has improved as much more of it is being accepted for international reprocessing. The previously problematic Plastic category has significantly improved and combined with higher quality recyclate for export, obligated business packaging waste producers and producer compliance schemes are hopeful that this could lead to lower plastic PRN prices.
Gareth Roberts, Managing Director of producer compliance scheme Comply Direct, is hopeful of a most robust PRN market as a result of the standardisation of quality by China’s Green Fence initiative: “The data shows that higher Plastic PRN prices have stimulated a growth in the supply of PRNs via greater investment in the capacity and infrastructure to recycle more Plastic packaging waste in the UK and overseas. This is the PRN system working well based on demand and supply of PRNs and with such strong Plastic data we should now see the Plastic PRN price steadily drop towards the end of 2013.”
Comply Direct use the EA reported recycling data to develop their annual PRN strategies and work with a number of trusted facilities to deliver the most cost effective PRN solutions to their packaging compliance scheme members.
To find out more about the Q3 packaging data report, click here.
For all other enquiries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Comply Direct's expert packaging team.