EA publishes guidance on plastic waste exports to Turkey

03 MARCH 2021

Following discussion with industry, the EA has published guidance on how it will regulate the recent changes to Turkish plastic import controls.

From 1 Jan, the import of mixed polymers and EWC code 19 12 04 have been prohibited into Turkey. The intention of the Turkish authorities appears to have been to attempt to prevent the import of poor quality material, but they appear to have misunderstood how 19 12 04 was applied leading to widespread confusion in the UK as to its impact.

EWC subchapter 19 12 covers 'wastes from the mechanical treatment of waste (for example sorting, crushing, compacting, pelletising) not otherwise specified'.

Translated literally, this would cover pretty much any waste that is exported as it would include baling and shredding. However, the EA has applied a pragmatic position and has now produced guidance that is being communicated to exporters today. This will allow the continued export of plastic packaging waste under 15 01 02 - permitted for import into Turkey - where the waste has entered a mechanical treatment process as a single polymer.

The full impact of this will not be known for a while. Mixed bottles, plastic waste sorted from comingled household recyclables and plastic processed at a specialist plastics recycling facility from any mixed input will not be allowed to be exported to Turkey. The EA has made it clear in their guidance that any waste identified as 19 12 04 prior to export to Turkey will be stopped and that it is illegal to change the EWC to 15 01 02 to avoid the restrictions. 

Further information is awaiting from the Turkish authorities that might lead to a re-appraisal of the position although it seems unlikely that there will be any change unless they lift the 19 12 04 ban.