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City's plastic in Far East fiasco

PUBLISHED: 15:23 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

Plastic bottles handed over for recycling in Norwich are being shipped 8,000 miles to Hong Kong - making a mockery of the supposedly eco-friendly practice.

Plastic bottles handed over for recycling in Norwich are being shipped 8,000 miles to Hong Kong - making a mockery of the supposedly eco-friendly practice.

City Hall's waste boss says bottle collections are so expensive and long-winded he does not think the authority should even be offering them.

Brian Morrey, the city council's executive member for development and sustainability, said: “All the plastic bottles that are put out for recycling in Norwich are currently going to Hong Kong. There are simply not the facilities in this country at the moment to be able to do this type of recycling.”

Plastic bottles collected in the city are taken to Norfolk Environmental Waste Services in Costessey.

All the bottles are then sent to RECOUP in Peterborough, where the quantity is split in half, with 50 per cent going to Magic Bright in Hong Kong, and 50 per cent going to Chinamerge Technology Ltd, also in Hong Kong.

Chinese firms are offering UK waste companies about £120 a tonne for plastic bottles, the materials are used to make things such as furnishings, clothes and even plastic bags - which are then sold back to the UK.

Greenpeace has criticised the practice of plastics being shipped to the Far East as environmentally damaging reprocessing, rather than the helpful recycling families taking their bottles to banks hope for.

Mr Morrey, who took up his post after Labour's largest party victory at the May local elections, said: “As it stands I would not even offer these plastic bottle collection services.

“Plastic recycling is not cost-effective until we get some of the correct procedures in this country.”

The city council pays £358 for every tonne of plastic bottles it has recycled. Since October last year the authority has spent more than £5,000 on this process.

Adrian Ramsay, leader of the city council's Green Party, said: “All recyclable materials should be reprocessed as locally as possible to minimise the pollution caused through their transportation.

“In the longer term we would like to see reprocessing plants established in Norfolk to create local jobs and ensure that Norfolk's recyclable waste is reprocessed in Norfolk.”

What do you think about your plastic bottles being shipped to Hong Kong? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk or visitwww.eveningnews24.co.uk/forums


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