Report raises new fears over UK plastic exports to Global South

A NEW REPORT has today prompted fresh concerns UK plastic waste may be being shipped to the Global South via proxy.

The report was published today by Dutch charity Plastic Soup Foundation.

Figures released earlier this year revealed UK plastic waste exports to the Netherlands increased by some 62 percent between 2020 and 2021.

Today’s report revealed during this period plastic waste exports from the Netherlands to the Global South more than doubled to in excess of 200 million kilograms.  

Almost 70 million kilograms was sent to Indonesia, while 64 million kilograms was destined for Vietnam.

Whitehall has committed to consult by the end of 2022 on banning the export of UK plastic waste to non-OECD countries.

Direct exports to Indonesia and Vietnam would fall within the scope of a UK ban, although exports to the Netherlands would not. It is unclear if the upcoming regulations would outlaw plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries via proxy countries.

There are now real fears plastic waste generated in the UK may end up in countries with inadequate waste management infrastructure via proxies such as the Netherlands.

Only Japan and the US exported more plastic waste to countries in the Global South in 2021 than the Netherlands.

Per capita, the Netherlands is the world leader in plastic exports.

Maria Westerbos, Director of Plastic Soup Foundation, said: “The export of plastic waste should be completely banned to countries outside of the European Union. The Netherlands too as the largest transit port for plastic waste should take responsibility and halt all exports.

“If countries took seriously their responsibility to slash plastic waste, there would be no real need for plastic waste exports.”

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet – which has campaigned for a ban on UK plastic waste exports since 2017 – said: “This shocking new report shows why only a total ban on plastic waste exports from British shores will be truly effective.

“At the moment we risk sending our plastic detritus to the world’s poorest countries by proxy. Waste imperialism of the worse kind. Prime Minister Liz Truss should address this gaping loophole urgently.” For more information, please visit:

Written by Kevin Gambrill

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