UK exporting 67% of plastic waste amid 'illegal practices' warnings

The Ecologist

Publisher:  The Ecologist
Date Written:  13/03/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20583

Britain's trade in waste plastic to the Far East is booming. The exported plastic is meant to be recycled under UK conditions and standards, but often is not, undermining bona fide UK recycling firms who face falling prices, reduced turnover, collapsing profits, and all too often, closure.



Traditionally the UK has exported much of its waste plastic to Europe for burning as Refuse Derived Fuel, or to China for recycling. However, in 2013 China implemented stricter rules on the quality of plastic it would accept in a project called 'Operation Green Fence'. As a result more plastic waste is now making its way to Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the three countries are all significant sources of plastic pollution in our seas and oceans, mainly due to poor waste collections and management. Indonesia comes in at the world number 2 ocean plastic polluters (after China), with Vietnam at number 4 and Malaysia at number 8.
Back in 2013, a report by the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group "there remains concern that some shipments of material are being mis-described as being on the greenlist, when they are actually illegal shipments of mixed municipal waste disguised with thin layers of light recyclables such as paper or plastic."

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