A complete ban on the export of plastic waste has been called for by A Plastic Planet, the environmental campaign group backed by politicians, business leaders and environmentalists.
The charity kicked off the campaign with a letter in the Telegraph at the start of the month urging Britain to stop the “scandal” of “passing the buck” to countries “ill-equipped to deal with the barrage” of plastic waste.
It highlighted the National Audit Office’s warning that millions of tonnes of waste plastic sent abroad “may actually be dumped in landfill”.
The letter said: “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.”
It added: “The ban should form the centerpiece of the Government’s long-awaited resources and waste strategy, positioning Britain as a world leader in the war on plastic waste.”
Signatories include environmentalist and broadcaster Ben Fogle, Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch and managing director of Iceland Foods Group Richard Walker.
The UK waste and recycling industry has previously argued that there is a need for more recycling infrastructure within the UK so that plastic pellet can be exported rather than unprocessed waste.
Letter in full
Britain must stop exporting its plastic waste
SIR – Britain’s inadequate waste management infrastructure means that plastic earmarked for recycling here is sent abroad in huge quantities for processing. The hideous sight of plastic rubbish from Britain is becoming common across the developing world, from India to Vietnam.
Two-thirds of British packaging waste is now exported, with the National Audit Office warning this year that millions of tons [sic] of plastic sent abroad for recycling may actually be dumped in landfill.
About 90% of plastic waste that enters the marine environment every year via rivers is from Africa and Asia, and we are often quick to blame the developing world for the crisis. Yet by pumping plastic waste to countries ill-equipped to deal with the barrage, 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.
The international campaign A Plastic Planet believes the scandal of sending shiploads of plastic to the developing world must end. We agree. That’s why today we are calling for a complete ban on the export of plastic waste. The ban should form the centerpiece of the Government’s long-awaited resources and waste strategy, positioning Britain as a world leader in the war on plastic waste.
Chief executive, Sky
Managing director, Iceland Foods Group
UN patron of the wilderness
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
Baroness Walmsley (Lib Dem)
Chief executive, Menhaden Capital
Managing director, Nextek
Ben Lake MP (Pliad Cymru)
Lord Judd (Lab)
Tom Brake MP (Lib Dem)
Lord Taverne (Lib Dem)
Co-founder, One Young World
Managing director, BBIA
Chief executive, First Mile