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Where’s our ‘Green Brexit’?

Global figures urge government to ‘stop post-Brexit backtracking on environment’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Where's our 'Green Brexit'?

Some 35 politicians, environmentalists and experts have today (22 January) called on the government to stop backtracking on key environmental pledges and close the legal loophole allowing plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries. 

Writing in an open letter, television presenter and naturalist Chris Packham joins a host of parliamentarians representing Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP warning that the government is setting a dangerous precedent by failing to maintain its environmental promises.
The calls follow news that the UK will continue to be able to export its plastic waste to developing nations, despite the government previously committing to a ban on the practice.

‘If the government continues to backtrack on key environmental pledges we are never going to see the ‘Green Brexit’ we were all promised. 

‘With COP26 right around the corner, now is the time for Britain to show the world it means business when it comes to tackling the pressing issues of plastic pollution and climate change, but we will never truly combat the plastic crisis if we continue to hide our guilt in other people’s back yards.’

Co-Founder, A Plastic Planet

UK plastic exports

The UK is the second biggest per-capita producer of plastic waste in the world. Around two-thirds of its plastic waste is sent abroad.
The Environment Agency estimates that annually some 210,000 tonnes of plastic waste is sent from England to non-OECD countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Many of these nations do not have the adequate infrastructure to process the waste, resulting in them being overrun with plastic pollution. 

EU Member States have been governed by a law preventing unsorted and contaminated plastic waste being shipped to non-OECD countries since 01 January this year.  

The UK government was expected to follow suit, but instead its exports will now fall under a new system where the importer can accept or refuse the waste. 

Close the loophole

The open letter is supported by A Plastic Planet’s Sian Sutherland, City to Sea’s Natalie Fee and founder and director of the Plastic Soup Foundation, Maria Westerbos.  

It has also attracted cross-party political support from more than 20 parliamentarians, including Labour MP Virendra Sharma, SNP MPs Tommy Sheppard and Kenny MacAskill and former Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Lord Clark of Windermere.  

Experts including Georgia Elliott-Smith, UNESCO Special Junior Envoy for Youth & the Environment, Professor Sir Brian Hoskins from Imperial College London and Dr Paul Butler from the University of Exeter have also have joined the calls.

With Britain set to host the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November this year, the letter urges the government to stop backtracking and be a world leader on environmental policy.  

‘There’s a lot of talk from the government about tackling the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, but we are still waiting to see real action.  

‘Going back on promises and pledges is not the way forward if we are aspiring to be a global leader in rising to these issues. Today I’m joining the calls for the government to stop backtracking, and close the loophole allowing plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries.’

SNP Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

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