Could your recycled material end up on a landfill?

Many plastic bottles for recycling will be recycled, Concept of recycling the Empty used plastic bottle

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that over half of packaging being sent for recycling is actually going abroad to be processed.

As a result, the government is not able to say whether the materials are actually being recycled.

The report published today says that the government has turned a blind eye to underlaying problems in the system and that firms could be overstating the amount of materials that they are recycling.

Furthermore, the Environment Agency has only carried out 40 per cent of the recycling checks that it planned to oversee.

Although the UK is supposed to have increased recycling to nearly two thirds last year, the NAO says most of the recorded increase is due to the country exporting its waste.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs has already stated that the UK needs to stop exporting its waste overseas.

He said that the UK has “been exporting too much waste.”

“What we need to do is to make sure that we reduce the amount that we produce and also process more of it at home,” he said.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO said that, “a tighter grip on packaging recycling is needed.”

“Twenty years ago, the government set up a complex system to subsidise packaging recycling, which appears to have evolved into a comfortable way of meeting targets without addressing the fundamental issues.

“The government should have a much better understanding of the difference this system makes and a better handle on the risks associated with so much packaging waste being recycled overseas.”

Cheaper land and labour are often the reasons that a lot of plastic is exported for reprocessing. Currently, Britain sends two thirds of its plastic scrap to China where it uses the material to make products, which it sells back to the rest of the world.

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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