plastics web free

More than 30 members of the Commons signed a motion backing the ban

A group of cross-party MPs has called for a complete ban on the export of plastic waste from the UK to developing countries, including thousands of tonnes from supermarkets.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, and Labour’s Geraint Davies are among those backing the ban in an early day motion signed by more than 30 members of the Commons.

In the motion, proposed by Liberal Democrat Tom Brake, MPs condemn the sight of piles of Britain’s plastic rubbish in the developing world.

Read more: ‘Sea blind’ government must act now to save oceans, say MPs

It highlights that two-thirds of plastic waste separated for recycling in the UK is sent abroad for processing, while 105,000 tonnes of the UK’s plastic was imported by Malaysia alone in 2017-2018.

Campaigners welcomed the call.

“Go to any developing country and you will see the irrefutable evidence of the west’s addiction to plastic,” said A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland. “For decades we’ve buried our heads about recycling being the answer. Now we know that we have been sending our waste to some of the world’s poorest people. It is immoral and exploitative, and it is happening in our name.

“MPs from all sides are right to today call for an end to the despicable practice of exporting plastic waste abroad. Let’s deal with our own waste here in the UK. Our waste is invisible to us. We used to think popping it in the right bin is where our responsibility ends. The UK should deal with its own dirt - not ship it abroad to others. The answer is clear - we must urgently turn off the plastic tap.

“We can begin with plastic food and drink packaging. Britain’s leading supermarkets are estimated to create more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year, with consumers given no choice to buy anything but food encased in plastic. This cannot be allowed to continue.”