By Dolline Mukui.
On average, British households throw out 22 million tons of non recyclable and recyclable waste each year and this waste is then transported to different locations around the world.
However, what we aren’t all aware of is that British waste that is sent overseas for recycling could end up in a landfill site instead of being properly disposed of with due care. This is due to inadequate checks on the UK’s part, according to the government’s spending watchdog. So whilst we’re working on ‘going green’ over here, we have still managed to contribute negatively to the world’s poor overall health.
Despite it’s history of wealth and power on a global perspective, Britain simply does not have the infrastructure to recycle its own plastic waste which is why it is sent abroad.
Under this government scheme, businesses can meet their recycling obligations by paying for ‘recovery evidence notes’ from reprocessing plants or exporters.
Last year, waste that was sent abroad to countries such as China, Turkey, Malaysia and Poland only accounted for half of the packaging reported as recycled.
The National Audit Office (NAO) warned that packaging material might add to pollution because the Environment Agency does not have enough control to prevent abuse of the system. NAO’s report found that businesses paid £73 million towards the cost of recycling their packaging in 2017, while local authorities spent £700 million.
Michael Gove’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was criticised for not doing enough to assess the effectiveness of the system and managing the associated risks with the rise of exports of waste.
The government’s spending watchdog said “the system appears to have evolved into a comfortable way for Government to meet targets without facing up to the underlying recycling issues”
“The Government has no evidence that the system has encouraged companies to minimise packaging or make it easy to recycle.”
Last year, Greenpeace released a report and according to that data, British companies alone have shipped more that 2.7 million tons of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012.
The head of the NAO, Sir Amyas Morse said “If the UK wants to play its part in fully tackling the impacts of waste and pollution, a tighter grip on packaging recycling is needed.” He also added “the government should have a much better understanding of the difference this system makes and a better handle on the risks associated with so much packaging waste being recycled overseas.”
A Defra spokesman said “Since the current packaging producer responsibility regime was introduced, recycling rates have increased significantly. However, there is much more to do, we don’t recycle enough waste, and we export too much of it.”
What are your thoughts on how to tackle waste and recycling? Is it a long time coming before the UK sees any real improvements?
Dolline is a traveller, journalist and blogger who has palate to try new things. She is a very spontaneous person; you might find her skydiving over the Kenyan coast or kayaking on Lake Como in Italy. She can be an over thinker who considers every outcome to the last detail, but on her off days, she welcomes the surprises of things unplanned. Dolline is a very simple person who is always in search of fun company, downtime in a good book and enjoys living in the moment. Dolline also writes for her small personal blog called ‘Swatches of Beauty’ and contributes to a radio show called a ‘A Chat with Elle Celeste’.