Turkey bans the import of plastic PE waste from 2 July

19 MAY 2021

The Turkish authoriities have added a ban on the import of poly ethylene waste - classsed as HS code 39151000 - to the current (1 Jan) ban on EWC code 19 12 04 and HS codes 3915901190 (polymers of propylene) and 3915908000 (other).

The ban was announced yesterday (18 May) to come into force 45 days from then. However, information has been received from a shipping company suggesting that the 45 days grace only applies where shipping arrangements and the Bill of Lading were in place by 18 May.

It is understood that there is strong lobbying of the Environment Ministry from Turkish recyclers to overturn this ruling - as there has been to get the ban on 19 12 04 lifted. But so far, there has been little sign that the Ministry is prepared to back down due to the high levels of contaminated material they have continued to receive this year. The latest Greenpeace report will have added pressure to this.

Turkey has been the largest destination by far for UK plastic packaging waste over the last couple of years. In 2020, it accounted for 31% of plastic packaging exports with Q1 this year seeing a big jump to 49%. It will therefore be extremely difficult for exporters to find legal alternatives to plug the gap, especially as the UK will be competing with all the other suppliers to Turkey from other countries for that capacity.

The graph below shows how Turkey has replaced China as the biggest export destination for UK plastic packaging waste.