3 July 2019 by Will Date

Lovell Recycling responds over Malaysia plastics exports

Telford-based Lovell Recycling has issued a statement after having been named in relation to a television programme over exports of plastic waste to Malaysia.

Last month exports of mixed plastics to Malaysia featured in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s BBC ‘War on Plastic’ documentary, which was filmed in November 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Exports of plastic to Malaysia have been in the spotlight. (Picture: Shutterstock)

During the programme, the TV chef and campaigner traced plastic waste allegedly from UK councils to a site near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur where non-recyclable plastic waste appeared to have been abandoned.

Councils named within the documentary included Rhondda Cynon Taf council in south Wales, as well as Braintree council in Essex. Subsequent to the programme Rhondda Cynon Taf said it had used Lovell to trade some of its recyclable commodities which included mixed plastics.

Lovell responded to this, acknowledging that it has sent plastics for recycling to Malaysia, but noted that none of this material had been sent to the site filmed in the BBC documentary.

The company has a ‘clear audit trail’ for the material it has exported to Malaysia, it said.

Obligations

In a statement issued to letsrecycle.com, the company said: “Lovell Recycling’s legal and moral obligations to the environment are at the forefront of everything it does. It is proud to play a valuable part in the UK’s recycling efforts. It does not and has not ever been involved in the illegal depositing of waste anywhere in the world.

“Lovell Recycling has a clear audit trail of the material it sent to Malaysia for recycling. That audit trail is evidence that the material was received and recycled by its customer. It was not illegally dumped and was not sent to the site visited by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the BBC in Jenjarom which is 212 miles away from Lovell Recycling’s customer.”

Further to this the company said that it had been told by the council that other contractors it had employed had also sent material to the south Asian country.

It said: “The council confirmed in an email to Lovell Recycling that “several other companies over the last two years have also sent material to Malaysia”. Any one of those companies could have sent the material found in Jenjarom. Or, it could be another exporter entirely.

“Whilst it is unclear when the bag was deposited in Jenjarom, or what route the bag took to get there. It is impossible to identify the responsible exporter. It is only possible for an exporter to demonstrate its innocence; which Lovell Recycling has done.”

Export

Following the airing of the television documentary last month, Rhondda Cynon Taf council issued a statement in which it said it had ceased sending recyclable waste abroad for processing, and that it has sought assurances and from its contractors that waste had been processed domestically.

It said: “In response to this discovery, the council has also sought assurances and evidence from all of its UK waste processing contractors, all of whom are licensed and regulated by the Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency, to reaffirm that all Rhondda Cynon Taf council’s waste has been properly processed in the UK. All the companies have provided evidence that this is the case.

“The council supports the action being taken by the Environment Agency to investigate and prosecute organisations that have not complied with their licences to recover and recycle plastics exported to countries such as Malaysia but are fraudulently sending the waste to landfill or illegally dumping it.”

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