Waste is getting sent abroad by the UK (Image: Birmingham Mail)
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A loophole in post-Brexit rules lets the UK continue to ship plastic waste to poorer countries, it has emerged.
British regulations are not as tough as new EU rules to tackle ocean pollution despite being Europe’s biggest producer of plastic waste.
The UK shipped 7,133 metric tonnes of waste, about two thirds of the total, to countries including Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey in September 2020.
Campaigners criticised the Government for failing to follow Brussels plans, brought in on January 1, to ban exports of dirty and unsorted plastic waste.
Waste that can’t be recycled usually ends up being illegally burned or dumped in landfills or rivers from where it ends up in the ocean.
The Tory manifesto promised to ban shipping plastic waste to less affluent countries and pledged not to fall behind the EU on environmental standards.
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Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network, said: “We had assumed the UK would at least follow the EU, and so it is a shock to find out now that instead they choose to have a far weaker control procedure, which can still permit exports of contaminated and difficult-to-recycle plastics to developing countries.”
He added: They are talking the talk, but they have failed to walk the walk.”
UK exports will now be made under a new system of “prior informed consent” which means the importer has to agree to accept the waste, and has the opportunity to refuse it.
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Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard called on ministers to delivered on their pledges.
“The Government has made big promises to match environmental standards from Europe and to ban plastic waste exports. There can be no dither or delay,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment said ministers had pledged to ban the export of all plastic waste to less affluent countries but did not say when.