Plastic recycling: Business leaders demand UK stops sending waste to developing world

Wednesday 5th December 2018 04:00 GMT

In an open letter published in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Darroch, along with TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle, Iceland Foods Group MD, Richard Walker and others, urges ministers to end the UK's "plastic shame" by "taking responsibility for our waste on British soil".

The letter states that two-third's of the UK's plastic packaging waste is now exported abroad to countries "ill-equipped to deal with the barrage of plastic".

Earlier this year the National Audit Office warned that, rather than being recycled, millions of tonnes of plastic sent abroad could in fact end up in landfill sites.

The group is demanding a radical overhaul of "the UK's vastly inadequate waste management infrastructure" which leads to "huge quantities" of plastic earmarked for recycling here being sent abroad for processing.

The letter says: "With around 90 per cent of the plastic waste that enters the marine environment every year via rivers attributed to 10 in Africa and Asia, we are often quick to blame the developing world for the crisis.

"Yet by pumping waste to countries ill-equipped to deal with the barrage of plastic Britain is guilty of passing the buck to some of the world's most disadvantaged people.

Ending the UK's plastic shame means taking responsibility for our waste on British soil. This means turning off the plastic tap at source and radically overhauling our broken waste management system."

Until earlier this year, the UK sent a big chunk of its used plastic to China, where it was used to make items such as computers, toys and appliances.

But China banned imports of plastic waste in January, leaving local councils searching for other options.

Japan has said it is also suffering following China's decision.

:: Sky's Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

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