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Business leaders demand UK stops sending waste to developing world

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Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch has joined a group of business leaders calling for the UK to stop “passing the buck to some of the world’s most disadvantaged people” by exporting its plastic waste to the developing world.

In an open letter published in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Darroch, along with TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle, Iceland Foods Group MD, Richard Walker and others, urges ministers to end the UK’s “plastic shame” by “taking responsibility for our waste on British soil”.

The letter states that two-third’s of the UK’s plastic packaging waste is now exported abroad to countries “ill-equipped to deal with the barrage of plastic”.

Earlier this year the National Audit Office warned that, rather than being recycled, millions of tonnes of plastic sent abroad could in fact end up in landfill sites.

The group is demanding a radical overhaul of “the UK’s vastly inadequate waste management infrastructure” which leads to “huge quantities” of plastic earmarked for recycling here being sent abroad for processing.

The letter says: “With around 90 per cent of the plastic waste that enters the marine environment every year via rivers attributed to 10 in Africa and Asia, we are often quick to blame the developing world for the crisis.

Pungent gas fills the air around a fire at a landfill site in Denpasar, Indonesia
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Pungent gas fills the air around a fire at a landfill site in Denpasar, Indonesia

“Yet by pumping waste to countries ill-equipped to deal with the barrage of plastic Britain is guilty of passing the buck to some of the world’s most disadvantaged people.

Ending the UK’s plastic shame means taking responsibility for our waste on British soil. This means turning off the plastic tap at source and radically overhauling our broken waste management system.”



The Dominican Republic is cleaning up up tonnes of plastic that has spoilt its Caribbean shores




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More than 500 people have been recruited to clean up tonnes of plastic that has spoilt the Dominican Republic’s shores

Until earlier this year, the UK sent a big chunk of its used plastic to China, where it was used to make items such as computers, toys and appliances.

But China banned imports of plastic waste in January, leaving local councils searching for other options.

More from Sky Ocean Rescue

Japan has said it is also suffering following China’s decision.

:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

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