Letter: Britain peddles the recycling line, but Germany's got it wrapped up

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The Independent Online
'WHAT a lot of wrap' (Inside Story, July 19) correctly states that 30 per cent of the paper and board we use is recycled, but we should see this in the context of our available production facilities.

We could, of course, recycle more but, as your article implies, we need to generate the capital and to secure markets before investing the pounds 200m to pounds 300m required to put world-scale plant in place.

Generation of capital is being eroded by Germany's unilateral 'Topfer' ordinance (named after its environment minister, Klaus Topfer). Waste is indeed being collected in great quantities there at an enormous cost which is not passed on to the mills; this disrupts the markets throughout Europe.

The impact in the UK is severe: recycled-paper mills are closing and the waste collection infrastructure is collapsing. This is not 'a level playing field'. The Government seems powerless or unwilling to act on the industry's demand that land-filling recyclables be discouraged.

The shortages of waste in the UK, even of the lowest grades, are forcing companies to import, and to substitute higher and more expensive grades, thus raising the competitive pressure. A road to ruin for sure, and one largely out of the industry's hands.

B C Bateman

British Paper & Board Industry Federation