Compacted plastic waste

The UK’s Trade in Plastic Waste

Recent years have witnessed an alarming increase in the illegal trade of plastic waste, with high-income countries consuming plastic products and packaging at unsustainable rates, exporting their plastic waste to developing countries with little capacity and infrastructure to manage it, which impacts on communities, economies and ecosystems around the world.

The UK is the second largest producer of plastic waste per capita in the world, creating 99kg per person in 2016, and the British Plastics Federation estimates the UK produced about 4,593,000 tonnes of plastic waste in 2020. Of this, approximately 20 per cent (890,000 tonnes) was exported – 54 per cent of what supposedly had been recycled.