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Statement regarding exported plastic waste in Turkey

26 • June • 2020

Statement regarding exported plastic waste in Turkey

26 June 2020

In response to news reports regarding the discarding and burning of plastic waste in Turkey which has been exported from the UK, intended for recycling, Michael Topham, Chief Executive of leading sustainable waste management company, Biffa, comments:

“These reports that waste from the UK, intended for recycling, is being ineffectively processed and discarded in this way are deeply disappointing. The issue highlights the urgent need for a review of the UK’s failed Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system, which is creating a false market in low-grade UK originated materials and disincentivising investment in UK recycling facilities. It is critical that this is reformed.

“Biffa does not export any plastic waste to Turkey. The majority of the plastic we collect is reprocessed here in the UK, principally in our own plants, with the remainder being managed by carefully selected partners in countries where the environmental standards and controls are as least as good, or better, than those of the UK. 

“For some time, we have been calling for a ban on the export of plastic waste. The government’s current policy allows waste exports to OECD countries, which includes Turkey. As these scenes from the country demonstrate, this is clearly not a sufficient or effective policy and continues to facilitate illegal trade.

“As major investors in UK green economy infrastructure we have made clear our commitment to unlocking £1.25bn of investment in sustainable waste management facilities by 2030. Earlier this year we opened our £27.5m plastic recycling facility in Seaham, County Durham, which is capable of recycling 57,000 tonnes of plastic, or 1.3bn plastic bottles, per year. We currently process 90% of our plastic in the UK and have committed to quadrupling our plastic recycling capacity by 2030.

“Once again, we strongly urge the UK government to introduce stricter regulations on exporting waste from the UK and reform the PRN system. Only then can we start to have confidence that these upsetting scenes of UK waste on foreign shores will become a thing of the past.”

Further information regarding Biffa’s activities around investing in UK recycling can be found in its sustainability strategy, ‘Resourceful, Responsible’, here.




For further information, contact:

Houston / +44 (0)203 701 7660

About Biffa

Biffa, is the UK's leading sustainable waste management business. We have over 8,000 employees working across more than 200 sites to change the way people think about waste. We operate across the waste management value chain, including the collection, treatment, processing and disposal of waste, as well as the production and sale of recovered commodities such as energy, paper, glass, metals and plastic. We are first choice for customers, with our national customer base including local authorities, large corporates and SMEs, and purchasers of end-product commodities and energy. In FY20 we structured into two divisions: Collections and Resources & Energy. In FY20, the Group's total revenue was £1,102.8m and its Underlying EBITDA was £174.0m. Biffa has been listed on the London tock Exchange since October 2016 under the ticker "BIFF". In March 2020, Biffa entered the FTSE-250.


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