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News that China is to ban the import of unsorted waste paper and all scrap plastics shows that the UK needs to focus on quality.

China has this week filed a notification with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that it intends to ban four classes and 24 kinds of solid waste by the end of the year including all plastics scrap, unsorted waste paper, certain metal recycling residues, textiles and all unsorted waste or scrap.

Mark Lyndon Paper Enterprises managing director Colin Clarke said: “Mark Lyndon Paper Enterprises along with our competitors ACN and Cyclelink UK have jointly supported the Quality First campaign because the mills we supply were increasingly concerned about rumours and actions, such as National Sword, coming from the Chinese Government about a crackdown on imports of recycled materials.

“For the time being, we are still able to export OCC, mixed paper and other grades to China as it is only unsorted waste paper imports that have been banned.

“The word from China is that we purchase a grade made to a global specification and not unsorted papers. Normal caveats apply when dealing with the Chinese authorities that if bad shipments are received, then mixed papers in particular could be at threat of a ban.

“We should also be clear that China is very serious about protecting its environment and the public health of its citizens. If we do not ensure our exports of paper are of the very highest quality, then we are at risk of closing our most important market for recovered paper.

“The UK, Europe and other Asian destinations simply do not have the capacity to take all of our excess recovered paper, so we must make sure China remains open to us by providing it with a high quality secondary commodity.”

The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin added: “China’s filing of this notification to the WTO has to act as a wake-up call to all parts of the supply chain that quality has to come first.

“We launched our Quality First campaign almost a year ago to highlight how we risked losing China as our biggest market for recycled materials if we did not get our act together, and now China has taken the action that proves it.

“In the notification, China made it very clear that it will no longer tolerate high levels of contamination from ‘dirty wastes’ or ‘hazardous wastes’ that it sees as damaging to both its ‘environmental interests’ and ‘people’s health’.

“Therefore, let’s make sure that our paper is of the highest quality so that we can maintain this essential market. With the ban on imports of all plastics scrap, this is a warning that if we do not meet the highest quality standards for paper, then we could face a similar ban in future.”

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