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Christian charity warns about abruptly stopping exports of waste without recycling plans

A bill has been re-introduced to UK parliament which could allow the Government to ban the export of waste to countries which have less wealth and fewer resources.

The Environment Bill reached its second reading in the last parliament but had to start the process again after the general election.

One aspect of the new bill gives new powers to prevent waste being shipped out of sight and encourages the UK to grow its own recycling system.

However, a charity has warned the plans need to be thought through in order not to transition abruptly from stopping exports to having nowhere to recycle the waste in the UK.

Andy Lester, head of Christian conservation charity A Rocha, explained: "On one level this is extremely good news because over the past few years a lot of our single use plastic has been sent to the far east for recycling and it's backed up and ended up in what we call plastic mountains - great big warehouses of plastic that should at some point get recycled, but it's a kind of 'out of sight, out of mind' - if we ship the plastic off, we don't need to worry about it.

"We have a duty of care to dispose sensibly of single use plastic in the UK and the hope is that it will help to drive down the use of plastics in Britain. The dilemma we face is there are simply not enough plastic recycling centres and recycling plants."

Mr Lester warned that in the short-term plastic would likely still end up in landfill, make its way into our waters and damage our water supplies.

"Ultimately can only be solved by removing single use plastic from the production chain and so our primary call today is to those manufacturers and suppliers of single use plastic to find alternatives."

He added that sustainable and biodegradable options did exist but are more expensive.

For individuals, Andy Lester advised boycotting products with single use plastic, avoiding buying bottled water and taking bags to the supermarket.

He also suggested using bamboo toothbrushes and writing to big supermarkets about their products which you use but do not like the packaging of.


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