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UK plastics sent for recycling in Turkey dumped and burned, Greenpeace finds | Plastics

Turkey has turn out to be the newest vacation spot for British plastic waste, which finally ends up dumped, burned or left to pollute the ocean, a Greenpeace investigation has discovered.

Greater than half of the plastic the British authorities says is being recycled are sent abroad, usually to international locations with out the mandatory infrastructure to take action. The UK exported 688,000 tonnes of discarded plastic packaging in 2020, a day by day common of 1.8m kilos. Simply 486,000 tonnes had been recycled in the UK.

China was a key vacation spot, however because it banned the import of many varieties of plastic in 2017, Turkey has emerged as the principle receiver of British plastic waste. UK exports to the nation elevated from 12,000 tonnes in 2016 to 209,642 tonnes in 2020, about 30% of the UK’s plastic waste exports.

As an alternative of being recycled, nonetheless, Greenpeace investigators in Turkey discovered plastic waste from main supermarkets dumped, burned, piled into mountains and left to spill into rivers and the ocean.

Greenpeace examined 10 areas across the southern Turkish metropolis of Adana in March and printed the info on Monday in its report, Trashed. It discovered plastic packaging from Tesco, Asda, Co-op, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Marks & Spencer dumped, left in luggage or burned. Plastic garbage from retailers reminiscent of B&Q, Debenhams, Poundland and Spar was additionally discovered.

Tesco wrapper
A Tesco wrapper discovered amongst plastic waste dumped and burned in Adana province, Turkey {Photograph}: Caner Ozkan/Greenpeace

Plastic luggage and packaging from the supermarkets in addition to Lucozade and Fanta bottles had been dumped in fields, close to rivers, on prepare tracks and by the roadside, Greenpeace investigators discovered. In lots of circumstances the plastic had been burned. The waste was in luggage piled excessive on prime of one another, a lot of which had been ripped open.

Different plastic waste was spilling into waterways and floating downstream. On the Mediterranean coast, investigators discovered extra British plastic strewn throughout the seashore, together with the wrapping from a pack of Andrex rest room paper.

The British waste had been exported not too long ago. It included a coronavirus antigen check and a packet with a use-by date of August 2021.

Greenpeace is looking on the UK authorities to enact the atmosphere invoice, and use the powers inside it to ban all plastic waste exports. It desires to see a direct ban on all plastic waste exports to international locations that aren’t members of the Organisation for Financial Co-operation and Growth, reminiscent of Malaysia, and on combined plastic waste to OECD international locations reminiscent of Turkey.

In addition to the affect of air pollution, Interpol mentioned final 12 months that the large improve in plastic garbage being sent to Turkey and different international locations was inflicting an explosion in the illegal waste trade.

Nihan Temiz Ataş, the biodiversity tasks lead at Greenpeace Mediterranean, who is predicated in Turkey, mentioned: “As this new proof exhibits, plastic waste coming from the UK to Turkey is an environmental menace, not an financial alternative. Uncontrolled imports of plastic waste do nothing however improve the issues that exist in Turkey’s personal recycling system.”

Different European international locations have additionally chosen Turkey as the principle receiver of their garbage. About 241 lorryloads of plastic waste come to Turkey daily from throughout Europe, 20 occasions greater than was imported in 2016.

UK and EU guidelines say that plastic waste shouldn’t be exported to international locations until it’s going to be recycled. Turkey’s recycling charge, nonetheless, is 12%, the bottom of any OECD member.

“So far as we will see from the info and the sphere, we proceed to be Europe’s largest plastic waste dump,” mentioned Ataş.

The Turkish authorities has imposed a crackdown on plastic waste imports, saying a ban on imports of many varieties of plastic waste from January.

UK commerce knowledge, nonetheless, suggests the transfer has had little affect. The nation sent extra plastic waste to Turkey in January 2021 than it did in the identical month final 12 months, up from 12,400 to 14,500 tonnes. The determine for February 2021 was 30,300 tonnes, greater than double the quantity for the identical month in 2020.

UK authorities commerce knowledge exhibits that Malaysia was the second vacation spot for British plastic waste, receiving 65,000 tonnes in 2020, adopted by Poland, which obtained 38,000 tonnes.

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