Zac Goldsmith told to end plastic waste ‘shame’ after Greenpeace probe revealed UK sends 210,000 tonnes to Turkey

ENVIRONMENT Minister Zac Goldsmith is facing calls to end the ‘shame’ of plastic waste exports following a damning Greenpeace report.

Lord Goldsmith, 46, has been accused of “actively fighting off” ways to strengthen environmental law and the government has been urged to “take control”.

Waste has been found dumped by the side of the road, rivers and in fields

Waste has been found dumped by the side of the road, rivers and in fieldsCredit: Greenpeace

A Greenpeace report, Trashed, released last month revealed around 40 per cent – or 210,000 tonnes – of the UK’s plastic waste exports were sent to Turkey last year.

But rather than being recycled, investigators saw some of it dumped by roads, in fields and in waterways.

The report suggested plastic from the UK was evident at sites which included packaging and plastic bags from high street retailers such as Tesco, Asda, the Co-op, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Marks & Spencer, as well as Lucozade and Fanta bottles and a car number plate.

The government said the UK is a “global leader in tackling plastic pollution” – after Greenpeace called for it to “take control” of the problem.

The House of Lords is set to debate Amendments to the Environmental Bill today, which would place a total ban on all exports of plastic waste.

Lib Dem Peer Baroness Bakewell will demand that the UK ‘stands on its own two feet’ by processing all its plastic waste at home, and reducing plastic production. 

The Sun's Show Some Bottle campaign has won backing from the world's biggest eco groups

The Sun’s Show Some Bottle campaign has won backing from the world’s biggest eco groups

The Liberal Democrat Lords Environment Spokeswoman is set to remind Zac Goldsmith that his green reputation is at stake. 

She said: “Zac is well-known as an environmentalist and an ecologist but as Lord Goldsmith in government he is now actively fighting off action to strengthen environmental law.”

From 2017 to 2019, two thirds of plastic waste separated for recycling in the UK was sent abroad for processing.

A total of 105,000 tonnes of UK plastic was imported by Malaysia alone in 2017-18, with many of the countries in the Global South receiving the UK’s rubbish having high rates of plastic waste mismanagement, resulting in piles of the UK’s plastic waste littering their roads and environment.

Sian Sutherland, Co-founder of A Plastic Planet, said: “The UK generates more plastic waste per person than almost any other country in the world, second only to the USA. 

“But we take so little real responsibility for it – this has to change. Sending our plastic rubbish for other countries to deal with is the worst of waste imperialism.”

Investigations have unearthed plastic waste from the UK found dumped in Turkey

Investigations have unearthed plastic waste from the UK found dumped in TurkeyCredit: PA

Amongst the dumped waste were items from huge UK and German plastic drinks brands

Amongst the dumped waste were items from huge UK and German plastic drinks brandsCredit: © Caner Ozkan / Greenpeace

A report last month revealed around 210,000 tonnes of the UK’s plastic waste exports were sent to Turkey

A report last month revealed around 210,000 tonnes of the UK’s plastic waste exports were sent to TurkeyCredit: Greenpeace

Some countries have since begun to reject the UK’s plastic waste, with Turkey the most recent to implement a ban on plastic waste imports.

Liberal Democrat Lords Environment Spokesperson, Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, added: “Our reaction to other nations’ import bans should not be to cast around for new places to send our waste to. 

“Instead we must reduce the amount of waste Britain produces, and work to deal with what is left right here on our own shores.  My amendment to the Environment Bill today would compel the government to do just that.”

In October, we launched The Sun’s Green Team, a brilliant new campaign to show how every reader can make small lifestyle changes to help save the planet.

Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith today faced calls to end the ‘shame’ of plastic waste exports

Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith today faced calls to end the ‘shame’ of plastic waste exportsCredit: PA

Some countries are now rejecting the UK's plastic waste

Some countries are now rejecting the UK’s plastic wasteCredit: © Caner Ozkan / Greenpeace

Plastic waste that was dumped in waterways in Turkey has been tracked back to the UK

Plastic waste that was dumped in waterways in Turkey has been tracked back to the UKCredit: © Caner Ozkan / Greenpeace

Lucozade bottles were among the rubbish found by volunteers

Lucozade bottles were among the rubbish found by volunteersCredit: © Caner Ozkan / Greenpeace

The seven pledges include eating more plants, cutting food waste, turning the heating down, switching energy firms, insulating homes, repairing and reusing rather than buying and driving electric.

A poll of Sun readers found nearly three quarters are more concerned than five years ago about our impact on the planet.

Join The Sun’s ‘Green Team’ & save the planet

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