Great Britain

Shocking pics show British plastic bottles being burned in ­Turkey as the scale of our waste is laid bare

THIS is the jaw-dropping sight of British plastic bottles being burned in ­Turkey as the scale of our waste is laid bare.

Two thousand miles from our shores, thousands of bits of plastic and other waste is being dumped, a damning report today reveals.

Coke, Fanta, Lucozade, Pepsi and Volvic water bottles were found, among plastic from other everyday brand names — plus packaging from several of the UK’s major retailers.

Wrapping from a Covid-19 antigen test suggests the dumping happened within the past few months too.

Our Show Some Bottle ­campaign is calling on ministers to bring forward urgent plans for a deposit return scheme to help tackle the blight of plastic waste, prevent bottles from going to landfill, and give us a greater incentive to recycle.

In last week’s Queen’s Speech opening Parliament, it was revealed that a scheme would be brought forward later this year, but current plans mean it won’t be in place until at least 2024.

Britain currently recycles only half its waste — and some of it still ends up overseas, as seen here.

In 2018 the UK generated an estimated 5.2million tonnes of plastic waste — enough to fill Wembley Stadium six times over.


The sheer amount put into recycling bins by well-intentioned householders is too much for our current processing plants to handle, which is why some is sent overseas.

And many plastics are mixed, and so are far harder or impossible to recycle.

The shocking photos were taken in March at ten sites around the Adana province in southwestern Turkey, and toxic fumes are reported to be posing a threat to the health of local residents.

Exporting plastic to other non-EU countries is banned if it’s intended for “disposal” — but investigators found it is being dumped on roadsides or in fields or waterways.

Greenpeace says more must be done to stop plastic being burned and causing even more pollution. Last year the UK exported 210,000 tonnes of plastic waste to Turkey.

Turkey banned plastic waste imports in January, but campaigners believe it is being mislabelled and still allowed into the country.

Every day 241 truckloads of waste have been entering Turkey from across Europe. India, Indonesia and Malaysia have received similar piles of waste after China implemented a ban in 2017.

Nihan Temiz Ata, of Greenpeace in Turkey, said: “As far as we can see from the data and the field, we continue to be Europe’s largest plastic waste dump.”

Nina Schrank, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said last night the pictures were “appalling” and called on ministers to ban plastic waste exports altogether.

They want to use the upcoming landmark Environment Bill, which is set to come to the Commons later this year, to ban all plastic waste exports by 2025 and reduce single-use plastic by 50 per cent.

Political campaigner Sam Chetan-Welsh, added: “The UK government wouldn’t allow other countries’ waste to be dumped here, so why is it acceptable to make it another country’s problem?”

Ministers have banned some single -use plastics such as straws, stirrers and cotton buds, and a fresh plastic packaging tax is due next April.

And the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commits the Government to banning plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries in future.

A proposed extended producer responsibility scheme will also make companies that ­produce waste responsible for getting rid of it, with incentives for recycling and using recycled materials too.

New YouGov polling for Greenpeace shows nearly two thirds back the Government stopping exports of our plastic waste to other countries.

A Department for the Environment spokesman said: “We are clear that the UK should handle more of its waste at home, and that’s why we are committed to banning the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries and clamping down on illegal waste exports — including to countries such as Turkey — through tougher controls.”

Fighting the bottle battle of Britain

OUR Show Some Bottle campaign urges ministers to bring forward plans for a plastic deposit return scheme to help clean up the planet and slash our emissions.

Less than half of our plastic packaging such as bottles is recycled, and as Britain steps up to host the international COP26 climate summit this November, we are calling on the Government to get on with its plans to help us recycle more.

Ministers said they were minded to introduce a deposit scheme years ago, but they have been dragging their feet.

Meanwhile 45 other countries and states already have these schemes and have seen their recycling rates go through the roof in response.

Brits get through 14billion plastic drinks bottles, nine billion cans and five billion glass bottles every year, many of which get used only once.

The empties can end up in landfill, or as litter in our parks, and can pose a hazard to our precious wildlife too.

Each new bottle takes energy to produce, adding to the emissions which are warming our planet.

In Britain, 70 per cent of waste is now recycled – a great achievement. But we can do much more.

We know all Sun readers are keen recyclers but up to half of plastic packaging waste still isn’t recycled – and we know we can do much better.

Two in three of you said you would change your behaviour if it helped to save money as well.

With a 20p incentive, this scheme could help the nation to go greener.

A nationwide deposit return scheme, with reverse vending machines in shops, supermarkets and schools, would make recycling even more normal.

The life cycle of a plastic bottle

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