The chief executive of Environment Agency said that British rubbish should not be exported to foreign countries in order to stop criminals dumping waste.
Around 60% of British waste goes abroad. Much of it has been illegally dumped, or burned.
Sir James Bevan spoke at the Environmental Services Association (ESA) speech, “I think we should set ourselves a challenge to get to a place where we process all of our waste at home”
Although sending certain types of waste abroad is legal, is it right? Is it ethically right to dump the trash we create in another country?
Only exporters of waste can send abroad what can still be recycled in the importing nation. Experts estimate that only 5-6 percent of exports are ever inspected before they leave the country. This allows for garbage to be disguised as recycling.
Around 40% of the UK’s waste is sent to Turkey by campaigners. There, it causes an environmental catastrophe through being dumped or incinerated.
Both the Netherlands and Poland have seen a significant increase in waste sent from the UK after it banned exports of non-OECD countries.
Exports can be stopped, as the UK can only recycle 10% of its waste. Industry estimates show this to be a significant challenge.
Sir James acknowledged it could not be done without much thought or immediate action.
He said, “If we set ourselves the goal to end exports, I believe it would drive innovation.”
Waste crime should be punished with harsher penalties
He said that exporting waste would become more difficult as countries close their borders.
Many countries have banned imports of waste from overseas, including China, which was once the largest importer of waste in the world. This ban was based on the poor quality of the materials received.
How sustainable is this business model for those who export waste from the UK as more countries refuse to accept it? Sir James said.
Sir James, who said that waste has become a new narcotic, also demanded higher fines for criminals and longer prison sentences.
He stated that our policy is to try and stop waste crime from happening. It is possible to make criminals more accurate in their calculations and impose harsher penalties if they are caught.
Gavin Graveson (chairman of ESA), an industry body, stated that it was crucial that the EA would take the appropriate enforcement action against waste crimes.
He said that if waste crime is the new narcotics then penalties and crimes should be similar.