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Environment

Boris Johnson urged to ban plastic waste exports as majority of Brits opposed

The Prime Minister has been accused of "offering half measures" as campaigners call for him to get a grip of the plastic waste crisis

Wasteminster is the launch film for Greenpeace's 2021 campaign against the UK's waste exports to other countries. Voiced by impressionists Matt Forde and Jon Culshaw, the film features Boris Johnson being engulfed in a wave of plastic while giving a speech in Downing Street. Producers Park Village and Studio Birthplace used a bespoke VFX simulation to create the dynamic flow of 1.8 million kilos of plastic - the amount of waste the UK exports to other countries every day. Image credit: Greenpeace

Wasteminster is the launch film for Greenpeace's 2021 campaign against the UK's waste exports to other countries. Image credit: Greenpeace

The vast majority of Brits are concerned about plastic waste and want the government to do more to address the issue, according to new research by environmental activists Greenpeace, as the campaign group stepped up its campaign to highlight the amount of plastic . 

More than 85 per cent of the public are worried about plastic waste, according to the study conducted by YouGov, and 81 per cent said the government should do more to deal with the problem. 

Greenpeace is hoping to draw attention to the environmental impact of plastic and the fact hundreds of thousands of tonnes exported from the UK are being dumped and burned in countries such as Turkey. 

“The plastic we carefully wash and sort for recycling is being shipped off to other countries where it overwhelms their waste systems and much of it ends up illegally dumped or burnt, poisoning local people and polluting oceans and rivers,” said Sam Chetan-Welsh, political campaigner at Greenpeace. 

“The government could put a stop to this but so far Boris Johnson is only offering half measures.” 

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A new video produced as part of the campaign, titled Wasteminster, shows Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference before a barrage of plastic pours down from above, flooding the street and sweeping away Johnson and cabinet minister Michael Gove, who are voiced by impressionists Matt Forde and Jon Culshaw. 

The video was released alongside a new report, Trashed, which revealed how the UK is “dumping” plastic waste on the rest of the world. 

Investigators documented piles of plastic waste dumped by the roadside, in fields or spilling into waterways and floating downstream in the Adana province in southwestern Turkey. 

The organisation said it provided new evidence of the Government not abiding by its environmental commitments and breaking the law on exporting plastic.

Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, which represents the retail industry, said: “Retailers are shocked by these reports. They take their responsibility to tackle plastic pollution seriously and are investing millions in reducing plastic waste.

“It is therefore incredibly frustrating to discover some waste handlers in the supply chain are not acting responsibly, and it highlights the urgent need to fix the UK’s recycling infrastructure and regulate those handling the county’s waste.”

Yenidam, Seyhan, Adana Province, Turkey. Investigation into plastic waste that is dumped and burned in Turkey. The team found plastic packaging from UK, German and global food and drinks brands and supermarkets. Image credit: Greenpeace
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Yenidam, Seyhan, Adana Province, Turkey. Investigation into plastic waste that is dumped and burned in Turkey. The team found plastic packaging from UK, German and global food and drinks brands and supermarkets. Image credit: Greenpeace

The YouGov poll also found 62 per cent of people asupport the UK Government stopping exports of the UK’s plastic waste to other countries.

Greenpeace is calling for a “complete ban” on all plastic waste exports and legislation to make UK companies reduce the amount of plastic they produce.

Nina Schrank, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, added: “It is appalling to see plastic from UK supermarkets’ shelves ending up 3,000 kilometres away in burning piles on the side of Turkish roads. 

“We must stop dumping our plastic waste on other countries. 

“This powerful film shows the shocking truth about what happens to plastic that the Government tells us is being recycled but is being exported for other countries to deal with.” 

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