Britain has relied heavily on China to dispose of plastic waste in recent years.Three years ago, the UK exported 500,000 tonnes of plastic to China - nearly two-thirds of UK plastic exports.
China introduced a ban on foreign waste a year ago when Britain's recycling industry warned that the decision would be a "game changer" and that the UK faced huge challenges in dealing with waste.
Now, a year on, there are no mountains of plastic waste in Britain, partly because other countries have taken over, and partly because Britain is burning more.
So who replaces China in the UK's disposal of plastic solid waste?The figures tell the story, the report said: in the 12 months to October 2018, a BBC analysis of environment agency figures showed that the UK exported a total of 611,000 tonnes of recycled plastic to other countries.In the previous 12-month period, from October 2016 to October 2017, the UK exported 683,000 tonnes.Compared with 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, exports are now down by 72,000 tons.
Other countries apparently imported solid plastic waste that China had previously imported, the report said.
Some countries have prepared their treatment plants to take in British waste with open arms.
China's plastic consumption plunged between 2016 and 2018, but Malaysia, Turkey, Poland and Indonesia were the first to fill the gap, the report said.Malaysia imported a total of 105,000 tons *.In 2017-18, the figure increased by 42,000 tons (68 percent) year-on-year.The next biggest destination is Turkey (80,000 tonnes).Poland was third, followed by Indonesia in fourth place.
Another way to analyze the data is to arrange the data by net growth (i.e., countries that grew * faster in 2017-2018 than in 2016-2017).By that measure, Malaysia and Turkey remain at the top, while Indonesia remains in the top five.The newcomers (replacing Poland and the Netherlands) are Spain and France.Spain added 14,000 tonnes in 2017-18 compared with 2016-17, while France added 9,000 tonnes.
German recyclers are also shipping plastic to other Asian markets, according to deutsche welle's website.According to the federal bureau of statistics, imports of German waste plastics from India, Malaysia and Indonesia increased significantly in early 2018.In 2017, for example, Germany exported 42,000 tonnes of plastic waste to India, up from 57,000 tonnes in the first ten months of 2018.In Indonesia, the figure rose from just 600 tonnes to 49,500.According to the German garbage industry: "when one market closes, the industry starts looking for another."