And, the minister added that the government will be looking to bring the planned ban on plastic exports to non-OECD countries forward, although it was not specified when this might be.
The minister made the comments this week (23 June) in response to a question tabled by labour MP Feryal Clark, who asked whether discussions on plastic exports will take place with the DIT following the publication of a recent Greenpeace report showing waste illegally dumped in Turkey.
In her response, Minister Pow also revealed that the Environment Agency has been “proactively” engaging with the authorities in Turkey on the issue of illegal plastic waste exports over the past year and has a “good relationship” with the country’s Ministry of Environment.
Minister Pow explained that the Environment Agency has liaised with Greenpeace following the report, in order to “seek information” which could assist them with their compliance monitoring and enforcement of waste exports to Turkey.
Reiterating that the government has pledged to introduce tougher controls on exports, Minister Pow added that over the last 12 months the Agency has had a “particular focus” on preventing it.
“The Government is also committed to a bringing forward a ban on plastic exports to non-OECD countries.” – Rebecca Pow, Recycling Minister
The government is set to launch a consultation on the electronic tracking of waste exports in the autumn.
She said: “The UK government has pledged to introduce tougher controls on illegal waste exports, and the Environment Bill includes a power to introduce mandatory electronic tracking of waste which will make it harder for criminals to obtain and export waste illegally. We plan to launch a consultation on this in the Autumn”.
Mrs Pow continued: “Within this context, Defra is working with the Department for International Trade on supporting the development of more plastic processing infrastructure within the UK to reduce the need to export these materials to other countries, such as Turkey. The Government is also committed to a bringing forward a ban on plastic exports to non-OECD countries.”
The Greenpeace report, published last month, found that at 10 sites dotted around the outskirts of Adana, Southern Turkey, piles of plastic waste were found to be dumped illegally in fields, near rivers, on train tracks and by the roadside (see letsrecycle.com story).
The items found at the sites included packaging and plastic bags from high street retailers such as Tesco, Asda, the Co-op, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Marks & Spencer, as well as Lucozade and Fanta bottles and a car number plate.
In response to the report, Defra said it would introduce legislation to help combat plastic pollution.
The minister also responded to a question tabled by labour MP Ruth Jones, who asked for an update on the impact of single-use nappies and options for alternatives.
Ms Pow answered that at this stage, Defra has not carried out a “specific assessment” on the topic, however powers are “being sought” through the Environment Bill to enable Defra to introduce eco-design for products.