Why Greenpeace just left half a tonne of plastic on Boris Johnson’s doorstep

Activists left 625 kilos of plastic waste outside Downing Street - the same amount that the UK sends overseas every 30 seconds.

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Greenpeace activists have dumped 625kg of plastic waste outside Downing Street – the same amount that the UK sends overseas every 30 seconds.

The government still won’t stop dumping the UK’s plastic waste on other countries, so with this special delivery, we’re helping them understand what it feels like to have other people’s rubbish left on your doorstep.

Living with the UK’s plastic waste

It’s easy to forget about our rubbish after it’s carted away each week, but for the communities where it ends up, the reality is very different.

In June 2021, Greenpeace investigators found British plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey – on the roadside, near waterways and in the open air. And this isn’t just a problem for wildlife – people nearby have reported serious health problems.

Plastic: key facts

Huge exports

The UK exported 688,000 tons of plastic in 2020. That’s 625kg every 30 seconds.

Dodgy stats

More than half of the plastic that's counted as recycled is actually sent overseas.

Dumping abroad

Greenpeace found plastic from most major UK supermarkets dumped in Turkey

Just a few days after the investigation, the Turkish government banned UK plastic waste imports. But now, just over the weekend, lobbying interests have forced Turkey into a U-turn..

Turkey’s u-turn has put the UK government under even more pressure to act. They claim to be world leaders in tackling plastic, but currently, they’re exploiting poorer countries, harming people’s health and fuelling the plastic crisis.

Bringing a viral animation to life

The protest at Downing Street was inspired by Wasteminster, Greenpeace’s viral campaign film that used CGI to visualise a year’s worth of exported plastic waste piling up in Downing Street.

Over 10 million people watched Wasteminster, and it sent shockwaves through the political world. Bringing the film’s message to life like this will help to keep the plastic crisis at the top of politicians’ minds.

What the government should do to solve the plastic crisis

Plastic is a popular issue, people across the country want the UK government to take proper action. Over 250,000 people have signed the petition, and 38 MPs from across the political spectrum have pledged to call on the government for proper plastic reduction.

A sign reading 'Welcome to Westminster' attached to a lamp post with the houses of parliament in the background. The word 'Westminster' has been crossed out and replaced with 'Wasteminster'.

Greenpeace activists rebrand Westminster as ‘Wasteminster’ by sticking up new road signs saying ‘Welcome to Wasteminster’ to show the government they must take responsibility for our plastic waste. © Luca Marino / Greenpeace

We need a complete ban on all plastic waste exports and legislation to make sure companies reduce the amount of plastic they produce. So far the Prime Minister is only promising to ban exports to some countries, but there can be no exceptions. Today’s installation at Westminster is a message to the government that it is time to act.

 

“We hope this pile of plastic helps the government to not only visualise the huge volume of plastic waste we export, but also to understand what it feels like to have waste dumped on your doorstep.”
Nina Schrank, Greenpeace plastics campaigner Tweet this

Tell your MP: pledge to fix the plastic crisis

We’re asking MPs to call on the government to stop dumping our waste overseas and reduce single-use plastic. Is your MP on board yet? Use our online tool to find out and contact them.

Contact your MP

What's next?

Take action - email your MP