Plastics: Exports:Written question - 166058

(Birmingham, Northfield)
Asked on: 19 July 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Exports
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's monitoring of the disposal of plastic exported to China for recycling.
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 25 July 2018

Businesses involved in the shipment of wastes are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling.

The UK environmental regulators take an intelligence-led approach to checking compliance with these obligations, focusing on specific problematic wastes. The regulators intervene at source to stop illegal exports taking place. Enforcement activity also occurs in transit, at roadsides and at ports.

Last year the Environment Agency issued 130 stop notices prohibiting the export of unsuitable waste. It also stopped 4,565 tonnes of waste destined for illegal export at ports and intervened further upstream to prevent a further 15,113 tonnes of waste from reaching ports. This work ensures we are not exporting our problem wastes for unsuitable treatment or disposal.

There is a system of international rules on waste shipments which must be followed by both Chinese and UK authorities to ultimately ensure the environmentally sound management of waste.

Our ambition is to handle more of our waste in the UK. While there has been a significant increase in recycling over the last 10 years, there is more that needs to be done and we will set out proposals in our forthcoming Waste and Resources Strategy.

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