Update: on the 19th of May, the Turkish government announced a ban on almost all foreign waste imports, including 95% of British plastic waste. This came after years of incredible campaigning from Greenpeace Turkey, and the recent launch of Wasteminster, our viral video on the issue, which you can watch on this page.
This is an incredible moment for the campaign, but there’s still more to do. Nearly 40% of our waste goes to Turkey, and we can’t let the government just dump it on another country. They need to tackle the root of the problem and reduce the amount of plastic that’s produced in the first place. If you haven’t already, please take action now.
The UK is the 2nd biggest producer of plastic waste per person in the world, behind the USA. And because we’re producing so much plastic, the government is dumping it on other countries who can’t cope with it either.
It’s hard to get your head around the true scale of the plastic problem, so we worked with the talented animators at Park Village Studios to show what it would look like piled up on Boris Johnson’s doorstep.
What you see in the film is the amount of plastic we dump on other countries every single day. That’s on average, 1.8 million kilograms a day – or 688,000 tonnes a year of our plastic waste that is fuelling health and wildlife emergencies around the world. Plastic kills hundreds of thousands of marine birds, sea mammals and turtles every year – but it’s not just harming wildlife and our oceans, it’s harming people too.
Plastic being sent overseas is being dumped or burned in the open air, with local communities in Turkey and Malaysia reporting serious health problems, like respiratory issues, nosebleeds and headaches. We have all lived through a health emergency over the past year in the form of Covid-19. But by dumping our plastic waste on other countries, the government has been fuelling another health emergency for even longer.
Time to take responsibility
It’s illegal for the government to send plastic waste to countries if it’s not going to be recycled. But a new Greenpeace investigation has found more evidence of plastic waste being dumped in Turkey. Turkey receives over a third (38%) of all of our plastic waste exports. The government must take responsibility.
The government wants to be seen as a leader in tackling plastic pollution, and every line in the film is an actual quote from Boris Johnson and Michael Gove (brilliantly voiced by Matt Forde and Jon Culshaw). And although they’ve announced positive yet very small steps to reduce the UK’s plastic production, they must take proper action to reduce our plastic pollution – and stop dumping our plastic waste on other countries.