Britain could be swamped under a “plastics mountain” should China stop processing the nation’s waste sent for recycling.

That’s the warning coming from a major waste reprocessor, Linpac Recycling, which has raised concerns after hearing China is no longer willing to accept low-grade or “contaminated” plastics from the UK. reports that historically, China has accepted to process the plastic contents of the UK’s recycling bins. On average, around 70 per cent of the nation’s recyclable plastics are sent to the Far East for reprocessing.

However, Beijing has now warned that it is not willing to accept unwashed, household plastics from Britain, as it strives to accept only high-quality plastics. The Environment Agency has confirmed that this year alone, 17 containers carrying some 420 tonnes worth of plastic have been refused entry to China and forced to turn back.

Speaking to, Bernard Chase, purchasing manager at Linpac Recycling, said that the UK could face a “plastics mountain” should this kind of action continue. Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, added that he is keen to improve Britain’s recycling infrastructure so that materials don’t need to be recycled abroad.

He said: “Trade in recyclable materials is a global market and I want to see UK businesses make money from it to help boost our economy. I want to see our own recycling industry grow, so we can grasp this opportunity with both hands.”

It is understood that China’s issue with “contaminated” plastics could arise from the fact that many local authorities in England don’t require households to separate their recycling waste for collection.

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