Greenpeace revealed about 210,000 tonnes (40%) of the UK's plastic waste exports were conveyed to Turkey last year. But instead of being recycled, investigators discovered some of it left by roads, in waterways, and in fields. The UK is a "global leader in handling plastic pollution," the government revealed - after Greenpeace called its attention to "take control" of the situation.

Plastic wastes
(Photo : Getty Images)

Plastic Waste Dumping in Turkey 

The report of Greenpeace warned Turkey was turning into Europe's "largest plastic waste dump." The charity said it had carried out an investigation on 10 sites across southern Turkey and discovered plastic bags and packaging that are from UK supermarkets and retailers at each of the sites.

The report said packaging for a coronavirus antigen test was also discovered, showing the waste was not more than a year old. The UK produces more plastic waste per individual than any other country excluding the US, the report added. In 2020, Poland, Malaysia, and Turkey received the highest quantity of plastic waste exports from the UK. The plastic waste dumping in Turkey was the focus of a BBC investigation last year. Correspondent  Angus Crawford went through piles of bottles plastic bags, and packaging abandoned by the roadside.

Also Read: Coronavirus Casualties: Plastic Waste Amid Pandemic is Killing Animals All Over the World

Europe's Largest Plastic Waste Dump 

In 2020, Turkey received almost 40% of the plastic waste exports belonging to UK - a rise by a factor of 18 since 2016, when 12,000 tonnes were conveyed. Last year, European Union member states also transferred 20 times more plastic waste to Turkey compared to 2016. "About 241 truckloads of plastic waste arrive in Turkey each day from across Europe and we are overwhelmed," Nihan Temiz Atas, biodiversity projects lead from Greenpeace Mediterranean, based in Turkey said.

She added: "As far as we can view from the data and the field, we keep being Europe's largest plastic waste dump." Senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, Nina Schrank said the main problem was overproduction and encouraged the government to prohibit the exportation of plastic waste and minimize single-use plastic by 50% by 2025.

Plastic wastes
(Photo : Getty Images)

Recyclable Waste Conveyed Overseas  

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK said: "We understand that the UK should take care of more of its waste at home, and that's the reason we are committed to prohibiting the plastic waste export to non-OECD countries and limiting unauthorized waste exports - including to countries like Turkey - through more difficult controls."

They added that the UK is a global leader in handling plastic pollution and their proposals for increased producer responsibility for packaging, a tax for plastic packaging and compulsory electronic waste tracking will increase the rates of recycling, decrease waste and reduce crime. 

Most wealthy countries convey recyclable waste overseas because it is not expensive, decreases domestic landfill and can assist areas to achieve their recycling targets. Yeo Bee Yin said the move was to make sure the South East Asia nation did not turn into the "garbage dump of the world." 

Related Article: The Amount of Plastic Waste on Earth Is Enough to Wrap the Whole Planet

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