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EU action needed as Chinese market for recycling falls – de Brún

19 November, 2008 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Brún has called for a greater emphasis on waste reduction and the creation of a larger EU market for recycled materials following a sudden fall in demand for recyclables in countries with a strong manufacturing base such as China. The plunge is due to a reduction in output in line with the global downturn.

Ms de Brún who is a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee and Temporary Committee on Climate Change pointed to the problems for government at a national, regional and local level in relation to the emerging problem of recycled waste becoming stockpiled at this time.

Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ms de Brún said:

"EU governments should step up their waste management plans and look at procurement policies and other measures to boost the use of recycled products nearer home. This would help tackle climate change in terms of not having to ship so much material to places like India and China and would also provide greater certainty for the market in recyclables. Due to the fact that local council recycling plans are very much dependant on market rates, the need for a long term strategy which deal with all eventualities needs to be rolled out at EU wide.

"Some work has been done on growing new markets for recyclables in Britain in terms of plastic milk bottles, and also in terms of recycled paper. All newsprint in Britain and here locally is now produced on recycled paper. This shows what can be done with the commitment to look for innovative new ways of dealing with materials.

"I have over the course of recent days been appraised by party colleagues who serve on local councils about the dilemma they face regarding the growing mountains of waste paper, plastic bottles and other recycled materials that are gathering. Collection companies are also running out of space to store materials as prices are so low that they cannot afford to move them on.

"We always knew that the shipping of recycled materials to China could not be a permanent solution. The present global economic situation now means that we have to step up our efforts to find alternatives. These should be sustainable alternatives in keeping with the news EU rules on waste management.

"Now more than ever we need to replace 'buy, consume, dispose of' with 'reduce, re-use, recycle'." ENDS

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