British Plastics Federation survey reveals Brexit impact fears

A recent survey carried out by the British Plastics Federation (BPF), the leading trade association for the UK plastics industry, has revealed that a majority of its members want to remain in the EU, fearing the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

The survey of BPF members was conducted by BPF’s ‘Brexit Taskforce’, which was established in June 2016 after the UK voted to leave the EU.

Despite the calling of the general election for 12 December, the UK is still on course to leave the EU, with the deadline now set for 31 January 2020 after the EU granted another extension as Prime Minister Boris Johnson withdrew his Brexit deal from Parliament.

A screenshot from BPF's Brexit survey

The survey revealed that 78 per cent of companies have made contingency plans in case of a no-deal Brexit, an increase on the 54 per cent of businesses that had done so in December 2018.

The survey found that border delays are expected to have a significant impact on businesses in the case of a no-deal Brexit, with 72 per cent of respondents saying that border delays will have a ‘high’ or ‘fairly high’ impact. The government has previously warned waste exporters about potential delays at container ports such as Dover, advising that waste businesses should seek ‘alternative’ export, recovery or disposal routes.

Tariffs and changes to customs and VAT procedures are also expected to have a ‘high’ or ‘fairly high’ impact on waste businesses, according to the BPF survey.

With the EU accounting for 69 per cent of all UK plastics trade, 55 per cent of survey respondents believed that remaining in the EU would be the best outcome for their business, whilst 41 per cent of respondents wanted to leave with a deal. Just four per cent of members expressed support for leaving the EU without a deal.

Commenting on the release of the report, BPF Director General Philip Law said: “Whilst the signs suggest that the majority of firms have taken some steps to prepare for a no-deal Brexit – a result the vast majority of firms clearly want to avoid – we have released this report to provide clear, accessible guidance to ensure all bases are covered when preparing for Brexit and we urge all plastics companies to make use of it.”

Guidance for members

With Brexit still a very real prospect, the BPF has published a 32-page guide containing advice to help plastics companies make preparations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

A screenshot of BPF's guidance document

BPF’s ‘Preparing for Brexit: Practical Guidance for the Plastics Industry’ has been produced in partnership with law firm Squire Patton Boggs and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The guide includes advice on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH)  –  the UK will leave the EU’s REACH regulation as it exits the EU, resulting in a loss of access to an extensive database on chemical safety. Companies will have to switch to a UK REACH system, which is intended to go live on the date of the UK’s departure from the EU.

The guide also includes information on the change from CE markings – which declare that a product conforms with EU requirements – to a replacement UKCA mark. Rules of origin and information on plastics recycling are also covered in the guidance document.

The BPF is also offering members the opportunity to get 60 minutes of free advice from the Brexit team at Squire Patton Boggs.

You can view the results of BPF’s Brexit survey on the BPF website.

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