In some areas along the eastern Mediterranean coast, piles of plastic waste are illegally dumped on the roadside, fields and rivers, and the air is filled with pungent smoke generated by burning plastic waste. The local environmental protection organization found that these extremely difficult to recycle and dispose of waste came from plastic shopping bags of several major British supermarket chains and plastic packaging waste of British goods more than 3000 kilometers away. According to the data recently released by the British government, the annual export of plastic waste from the UK to Türkiye has increased 18 times since 2016, reaching 210000 tons.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of the House of Commons of the British Parliament recently released a report saying that the plastic waste exported by the UK has had an "irreversible and shocking" impact on the local environment and residents' health, which has led to the local people suffering from serious diseases. Goodwell, the chairman of the committee, said that the phenomenon of transporting plastic waste overseas has existed in the UK for a long time, "turning their own problems into others' problems".
According to the data released by the British Parliament, more than 2.5 million tons of plastic packaging waste were produced in the UK in 2021, of which about 60% were transferred to other countries. According to British law, plastic waste cannot be exported unless it can be recycled by waste treatment institutions in other countries. However, in recent years, British media and environmental protection organizations have repeatedly revealed that these so-called "legal" plastic wastes exported by Britain to overseas have been illegally dumped and burned.
The BBC survey found that some plastic wastes exported from the UK were not properly classified before being shipped offshore, which made it difficult to recycle at the receiving place. A large number of low-quality and even toxic and harmful plastic wastes exported far exceed the recycling capacity of the receiving place. In 2020, Malaysia returned 42 containers of plastic waste illegally exported to the UK. The local environmental department official said, "The waste that the British people think can be recycled is finally dumped here".
According to the World Bank data, the UK produces 99 kg of plastic waste per capita per year, second only to the United States. The top 10 large supermarkets in the UK consume 900000 tons of plastic per year only for packaging. According to the statistics of a waste plastic recycling agency in the UK, at present, the domestic recycling facilities in the UK can only recover 10% of the plastic waste produced in daily life, even if they are operating at full capacity. The UK National Audit Office issued a report that the UK recycling system did not encourage enterprises to reduce the use of plastic packaging, but relied excessively on the export of plastic waste. Since 2002, the export of plastic waste in the UK has increased by six times, while the amount of domestic recycling has remained basically unchanged during the same period.
In the face of increasingly serious plastic waste pollution and increasing recycling pressure, many British environmental protection organizations believe that a more systematic and responsible way is to increase efforts to reduce the production of plastic waste from the source, encourage manufacturers and retailers to invest in plastic alternative products, and reduce the use of plastic packaging.
Contact Person: Mr. Fan