UK plastic waste is still illegally dumped and burned overseas, contributing to ‘shocking’ and ‘irreversible’ impacts on human health and the environment, MPs have heard.

A cross-party committee is calling for a blanket ban on plastic waste exports to the UK by 2027 after finding the ‘dirty trade’ is leaving toxic traces on overseas soil.

He said the waste was linked to cancer, liver disease, skin damage and abnormal fetal development.

He recommended that penalties be “significantly strengthened” as waste crime has become “a low-risk, high-reward enterprise”, with current penalties being “insufficient to deter illegal activity”.

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A bag of collected plastic waste

In a new report, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has found that the UK sends more than 60% of its plastic packaging waste overseas, with a range of consequences economic, social and health benefits for countries less able to dispose of materials sustainably.

The most common destination is Turkey, where ‘significant evidence’ has emerged of UK plastic waste dumped in the south-east province of Adana, MPs have heard.

Speaking to the committee, Nihan Temiz Atas of Greenpeace described the environmental and human health impacts as “irreversible and shocking”, adding that “80% of the plastic waste we found on the ground belonged to the Kingdom -United”.

Committee chairman Sir Robert Goodwill said Britain had become “dependent on exporting its waste overseas” and was “making it somebody else’s problem”.

The report warns that many witnesses to the inquest, as well as other commentators, fear that plastic waste from the UK is “still being illegally dumped and burned overseas”.

Despite some reduction in the use of “problematic” materials and an increase in the flow of recycled content into new products, the committee found that progress in tackling plastic waste as a whole appears to have stalled in recent years. years.

MEPs said certain targets needed to be made clearer, easier to measure and more ambitious, with a focus on reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place before encouraging reuse and recycling.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘We have been very clear that the UK should manage more waste at home, and that is why we we are committed to banning the export of plastic waste to non-OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

“We are also cracking down on illegal waste exports – including to Turkey – through stricter controls, and those who illegally export waste can face a two-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine.”

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