Campaigners are urging the UK government to ban the export of all plastic waste to all other countries and instead to invest in a domestic industry for recycling and to set a binding target on plastic reduction. Should the ban on exports be agreed however, campaigners say this must be backed up by appropriate enforcement to ensure the prohibition is not simply “headline grabbing”.
In early September 2021, Greenpeace revealed that plastic waste from major UK supermarkets is being sent to Turkey and dumped there or in some cases simply being burned. Greenpeace wants ministers to ban all plastic exports by 2025.
Despite a “green” Brexit being promised, the UK are behind Europe when it comes to banning plastic waste being exported to developing countries. Whilst the EU enacted such a ban in January, the UK has been claiming plastic waste is recycled overseas despite 30% of our plastic waste ending up in Turkey, which only has a 12% rate on recycling and lacks the infrastructure to environmentally handle the waste it is given.
Green Alliance, an independent thinktank, said these kinds of exports are already a breach of the Basel convention, which makes it illegal to export plastic waste to countries if there is a belief that it will not be handled in an environmentally sound manner.
Megan Randles, a Greenpeace political campaigner said, “The Environment Bill gives the government an opportunity to set targets to reduce single-use plastic by 50% by 2025. Our evidence of UK plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey illustrates why the government must use the powers within the Environment Bill to ban all plastic waste exports.
Before claiming to be a global leader on plastic pollution we need to stop being a global polluter.”