Greenpeace calls for investigation into the plastic waste industry

1st June 2020 | Recycling

Greenpeace has called for an investigation into the plastic waste industry, following the findings of its latest The Recycling Myth 2.0 report. It says the investigation should look at the plastic waste industry with a focus on possible corrupt, fraudulent and illegal practises by exporting countries and local unlicensed operators. Greenpeace says that plastic waste exports from the UK and other developed nations, “illegally dumped in Malaysia,” have caused widespread environmental contamination.

It says heavy metals and toxic chemicals potentially harmful to human health, were found to be present in soil, and water samples taken from illegal dump sites where plastic from the UK – some of it from household recycling collections – had been discovered in a previous investigation by Greenpeace in 2018.

Plastic Waste

The samples were taken from four sites in Selangor and Kedah states, which had since been closed down and partially cleared. The Greenpeace report highlights the long-term effects of what it calls a “corrupt and broken recycling system”, where exports of contaminated waste are often dumped illegally in developing countries, it says.

“Despite commitments by the UK government to curb the trade in plastic waste exports, Britain is still continuing to behave like a long-range fly-tipper,” said Louise Edge, plastics campaigner at Greenpeace. “This report exposes how we are inflicting a poisonous and toxic legacy on innocent communities living on the other side of the world. We need to stop “offshoring” the country’s plastic waste problem and focus on reducing and reusing packaging – supporting UK industry to recycle what is left over.”

After China banned plastic waste imports in January 2018, Malaysia became a primary destination for plastic waste originating from countries including the UK, the United States, Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia and Italy among others. Despite the Malaysian government’s shutdown of 218 plastic recycling factories between 2019 and 2020 for not complying with regulations, the UK continues to export waste to Malaysia, Greenpeace says.

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