Research from the University of Sheffield has found that the UK exports 60% of its 2.5 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste.

The main country that the UK exports its waste to is Turkey. Plastic waste is dropped off and burned causing ‘shocking environmental and human health impacts.’

Professor Rachael Rothman, from the University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures said: “If we want to be a world leader in sustainability, we must act like a leader and set an example for other countries to follow. This starts by ending the practice of shipping our plastic waste abroad for other countries to deal with.

“There are eight billion tonnes of plastic in the world – to put that into context, it weighs more than every single person who has ever existed. If things don’t change, this is expected to reach 40 billion tonnes by 2050.”

Experts from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee urges for a ban to be in place to reduce the amount of plastic waste by introducing reusable packaging.

The report highlights how the UK could save 200,000 tonnes of single-use plastic each year if reusable versions are introduced. 

Professor Rothman said: “Plastic itself is not the problem, but plastic waste is. Reducing plastic waste is key – to do that we should reduce the amount we use in the first place and try to reuse any plastic we do need as much as possible.”

The committee of researchers and MPs have outlined recommendations for the government in their report called ‘The price of plastic: ending the toll of plastic waste.’

These recommendations include restricting the amount of plastic that can be exported from the UK. Then completely ban all plastic waste exports by 2027. The recommendations urge the government to set out a plan on how to achieve this by March 2023.

You can read more about the new report and its findings here.

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