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Plastic Packaging Plan: achieving zero 'waste' exports

Plastic Packaging Plan: achieving zero 'waste' exports

If the UK wants to be a global environmental leader, it can no longer afford to sweep its plastic rubbish problem under other countries’ carpets, says Policy Connect's new report, calling for a bold national policy framework to reduce ocean plastic overseas and boost domestic infrastructure investment, innovation and green jobs.

This report from Policy Connect comes at a key time for plastic waste management in the UK. With public concerns at a high, ongoing discussion around the UK’s separation from European Union regulations, and China shutting its doors, the need to act has never been more present. The Government’s recent Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) provides an ambitious blueprint. We welcome the Secretary of State for Defra’s (Department for Environment, Food and RuralAffairs) recognition that the UK will have to stop “offshoring our dirt”. Achieving this ambition will require significantinvestment in domestic recycling. The range of government consultations due in 2019 will be crucial for ensuring the RWS leads to effective and well informed regulatory and policy changes.

The research is backed by a broach church of politicians, including Anne Main MP, Rebecca Pow MP, Lord Deben, Baroness Jenkin, Anna McMorrin MP, Mary Creagh MP, Barry Sheerman MP, Matt Western MP, Chris Williamson MP, Lord Teverson, Lord Smith and Geraint Davies MP.

The new report – Plastics Packaging Plan: Achieving Net Zero ‘Waste’ Exports – says the UK must urgently take back control of its share of the global plastics problem, highlighted in Sir David Attenborough’s hard-hitting Blue Planet TV series. It calls for new UK policies so UK plastic becomes a circular industrial resource, rather than exportable waste or environmental pollution.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee says, “Exporting two thirds of the UK’s plastic waste overseas is bad for jobs, business and our environment. I welcome the call for the UK to commit to abold target of zero exports of plastic packaging by 2030. Achieving this will require home-grown solutions suchas implementing a Deposit Return Scheme by 2022 and applying a coffee cup levy as my Committee recommended. We can and must transition from exporting our plastic waste problem to growing our ownsolutions.”

Stefano Agostini, CEO of Nestlé UK & Ireland says, “In order to realise our collective ambitions of a circular economy, the UK must invest in long-term infrastructure development to facilitate waste recovery and recycling. Such a strategy must support and strengthen market engagement, from both public and private sectors, whilst ensuring equitable coverage for all across the country. As a company, we welcome the Plastics Packaging Plan, and its call for a bold national policy framework to reduce ocean plastics and strengthen domestic infrastructure.”

Tamara Galloway, Professor of Ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter, says, “Our research has shown the widespread impacts that plastic litter can have on marine life and on the food chain. This proposal is a most welcome step towards tackling the problem. By taking systematic action to create a more circular economy for plastic, we can make better use of this great resource and keep the oceans cleaner at the same time.”