General Article Five ways to reduce your household waste – and stop it being shipped to poorer countries

Topic Selected: Waste and Recycling Book Volume: 385

Sankar Sivarajah, University of Bradford

The UK is the largest plastic waste producer in Europe and one of the biggest producers of plastic waste in the world, second only to the US. The UK produces 99kg of plastic waste per person per year. And it exports about two-thirds of this waste to poorer countries such as Malaysia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Shipping unsorted plastic waste from the European Union to non-OECD countries was banned by the EU from January this year. But the UK continues to export plastic waste to developing countries as part of new post-Brexit regulations.

Most of the plastic waste is sold to these countries as the UK currently does not have the means and capacity to process it at home. But these countries also lack the infrastructure and capacity to recycle imported waste. And waste that can’t be recycled often ends up dumped in landfill or waterways or even burned – releasing toxic fumes into the environment. Indeed, much of the waste sent to these countries is un...

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