UK risks becoming dumping ground for plastic after Brexit

28th June 2017 | Recycling

The UK risks becoming the “dirty man of Europe” after Brexit with no plan to deal with the millions of plastic bottles dumped by consumers every week, according to politicians and leading environmental campaigners.

The EU is currently drawing up an ambitious “circular economy” strategy which aims to make manufacturers take greater responsibility for the way the billions of plastic bottles produced each year are disposed of, collected and recycled.

But leading EU figures and environmental groups warn that the UK will not be bound by the new deal once outside the EU and so risks becoming a dumping ground for plastic and other waste.
Javor Benedek, vice-chair of the EU environment committee, said, “The UK risks falling behind the rest of the EU in the way it deals with the issue of plastic waste and plastic bottles, with little effort for waste prevention and better recycling, less onus on big producers to take responsibility and ultimately more plastic ending up in illegal dump sites or the ocean.”

He added, “There is a real danger it will become the dirty man of Europe in terms of waste management and plastic bottles in particular.”

People bought more than 480bn plastic drinking bottles around the world in 2016, and that demand will soar by another 20% by 20201.

The EU has been working on the circular economy strategy for several years. Before the end of 2017 the European council, the European commission and parliament are expected to hammer out a final agreement, although it may not come fully into force for up to three years.

The package aims to create a “concrete and ambitious programme of action” which covers the whole cycle of goods: from production and consumption to waste management and recycling. It would make manufacturers responsible for their products for their lifetime and bring in ambitious targets for recycling and waste management.

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