Turkey’s plan to expand its ban on plastic waste imports leaves the UK and other European countries struggling to find alternative recycling outlets, industry warns. The ban on the import of plastic waste has been expanded to include polyethylene, which means the majority of plastics will be prohibited from going into the country on 2 July.

Turkey became the UK’s primary destination for plastic waste export after bans were imposed by China. Packaging export data figures, revealed by waste management trade body MRW, show that plastic exports from the UK to Turkey rose by 42% from the Q4 of 2020 to Q1 of 2021.

Cross contamination and misclassification of some European Waste Catalogue (EWC) codes for plastic waste are the main reason for Turkey’s decision to ban polyethylene and other plastic waste materials. Defra is urging UK firms to contact Turkish authorities prior to waste export “to ensure their import restrictions are being adhered to”, It also warned that if alternate destinations for UK waste were not found, “there is a risk that waste will stockpile beyond allowable levels”.