How YOUR recycling is being illegally dumped and burned abroad by criminal gangs: TONS of plastic waste disposed of by eco-conscious British families is flytipped in Turkey as processing plants struggle to cope with waste sent from the UK
- Criminal gangs in Turkey have been accused of illegally burning goods that were first recycled in Britain
- Plastic goods and bags from British supermarkets all uncovered in city of Adana during Greenpeace sting
- The UK exports more than 500,000 tons of plastic annually, with almost half of this going to Turkey
Environmentalists have raised the alarm after it was claimed tons of plastic waste, first recycled in the UK, was being illegally dumped and burned by criminal gangs thousands of miles away in Turkey.
Turkish mobs have been accused of illegally incinerating imported rubbish in the Turkish city of Adana, where Sainsbury’s bags, Tesco products and other plastic-covered goods from UK supermarkets were uncovered during a Greenpeace investigation.
Waste from British grocers is also spilling into rivers, threatening local wildlife, while the singed packets of recently-burned rubbish were seen at five other sites in the Mediterranean hotspot, reports the Mirror.
The development will likely come as a shock to well-intentioned British families who strive to reduce to their own environmental footprint by recycling their plastic responsibly.
There is no suggestion the waste is coming directly from UK retailers – rather it is more likely it was first disposed of in homes across the UK before being exported to Turkey.
The UK exports more than 500,000 tons of plastic waste every year – enough to fill two-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools.
These exports to Turkey shot up from 12,000 tons per year in 2016 to more than 200,000 tons in 2020 – accounting for almost half of all plastic exports from the UK.
This sudden rise has seen Turkey struggle to manage both foreign exports and its own plastic waste, prompting serious health concerns as hazardous chemicals are continually being found at fly-tipping sites across the country.
Environmentalists have raised the alarm after it was claimed tons of plastic waste, first recycled in the UK, was being illegally dumped and burned thousands of miles away in Turkey
Plastic from British supermarkets is being illegally dumped and burned on Turkish roadsides (pictured: Rubbish in the Adana province in 2021), it has been claimed
There is no suggestion the waste comes directly from supermarkets and is much more likely to be household waste which has made its way abroad. Pictured: M&S Irish unsmoked back bacon packet found by investigators
Almost half of the UK’s exported plastic waste ends up in Turkey (left and right) – and is almost impossible to recycle. As such, it is often burnt and left in fields or dumped along the roadside
In just four years, Turkey went from taking 12,000 tons to 210,000 tons. Pictured: Plastic waste dumped and burned in Adana province in Turkey
Waste from British grocers is also spilling into Turkey’s rivers, threatening local wildlife, while the singed packets of recently-burned rubbish were seen at five other sites in the Mediterranean hotspot
Criminal gangs are accused of dumping and burning imported waste in the Turkish city of Adana, with Sainsbury’s bags, Tesco products and other plastic-covered goods from UK supermarkets uncovered during a Greenpeace investigation. Pictured: Rubbish found in Adana in 2020
Jacob Hayler, executive director at the Environmental Services Association, claimed that between 5 and 6 per cent of waste was inspected at Britain’s ports during the last three months of 2021.
It has led to environmental action groups to slam the perceived inaction from the Government, with Greenpeace UK warning ‘the truth is we have t no idea what really happens to it [exported plastic] because no one bothers to check’.
Chris Thorne, a campaigner with Greenpeace UK, added: ‘When we export our plastic, it might be out of sight and out of mind for us, but it’s harming people and nature in other countries.
‘The Government must ban plastic waste exports as a matter of urgency to stop this environmental colonialism.’
Experts have claimed nearly one million tons of plastic are being ‘openly dumped’ in Turkey each year.
A significant portion of this is being burnt as Turkey struggles to manage both foreign exports and its own plastic waste, prompting serious health concerns as hazardous chemicals are continually being found.
A Greenpeace investigation from 2021 revealed waste from our major supermarkets, including Tesco, Aldi and M&S, was found strewn across sites in southern Turkey.
The group found used fizzy drink cans, crisp packets and sweet wrappers among items being shredded and burnt rather than recycled.
A YouGov poll showed that 86 per cent of Britons are concerned about the amount of plastic waste produced by the country. The same poll also found 62 per cent support banning exports of plastic waste.
The amount of plastic first disposed of in the UK and taken in by Turkey has skyrocketed since China announced in 2017 that it would no longer accept our waste.
Waste exports to Turkey shot up from 12,000 tons per year in 2016 to more than 200,000 tons in 2020 – accounting for almost half of all plastic exports from the UK. Pictured: Workers sort waste at a landfill in Antalya, Turkey
Rubbish piles up in a ditch and is pictured strewn across the water in the Turkish province of Adana in November 2020
A 2021 Greenpeace investigation claimed that the plastic waste from the UK has been illegally dumped and burned on Turkish roadsides
Experts have claimed nearly one million tons of plastic are being ‘openly dumped’ in Turkey each year
With dumping sites cropping up all over Turkey, desperate Afghan refugees have been pictured collecting waste there in the past
Almost half of the UK’s annual plastic waste exports ends up in Turkey – and is near impossible to recycle. Prior investigations have found much of it is left burnt or dumped along the roadside
Almost half of the UK’s annual plastic waste exports ends up in Turkey – and is near impossible to recycle. Prior investigations have found much of it is left burnt or dumped along the roadside.
It is illegal to export plastic waste from the UK unless it is intended to be recycled or sent to an energy plant.
British households have also been accused of throwing away collectively nearly 100billion pieces of plastic every year, according to a survey.
On average each home throws away 66 pieces of plastic a day – with only a small fraction recycled, the survey found.
The Big Plastic Count saw nearly British 100,000 households count every piece of disposable packaging they used over the course of a week in May.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it is ‘tackling single-use plastics through our landmark Environment Act’.
It comes as reports showed plastic waste more than doubled globally since 2000, with a whopping 353 million tonnes produced in 2019, a new report has warned.
The report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, found that despite this surge in plastic waste, just nine per cent was successfully recycled.
‘After taking into account losses during recycling, only nine percent of plastic waste was ultimately recycled, while 19 percent was incinerated and almost 50 percent went to sanitary landfills,’ it said.
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