Big recycling lie as UK's plastic waste is dumped and burned on Malaysian streets

EXCLUSIVE Tons of rubbish from British households have been found on the streets of Malaysia, with recognisable packaging from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons found among the trash

A Mirror investigation exposes Britain’s environmental shame after tons of “dirty” UK plastic was discovered fly-tipped on the streets of Malaysia.

The damning indictment of the country’s waste management comes as the Government was this week shamed into taking back 42 containers of illegal waste sent to the “dustbin of the world”.

Our team found UK families’ waste going up in smoke as discarded cartons, fast-food packaging, washing-up bottles and containers were illegally burnt.

The fingerprints of all major British supermarkets were in abundance as we found countless branded items from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.

Many bore the Union Jack symbol, although now faded, on their labelling.

It was announced more public funds will now be spent covering the cost of returning the waste that should never have been sent to Malaysia.

It is illegal for any waste to be exported from the UK to be land-filled, dumped or burnt. But the export industry for plastic was worth £50million last year, tempting unscrupulous operators to cash in.

Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s Minister for Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, called the UK’s offer to take back the waste “highly commendable”.

But away from the container port where the waste arrives, the Mirror found hundreds of tons of plastic, much of it from Britain, which should not even be in Malaysia.

It is non-recyclable “dirty plastic” – either mixed with other waste or which has not been cleaned properly.

Now a doctor has told how the burning of UK waste outside Penang has led to thousands inhaling the deadly toxic air, with many needing medical attention.

People here are facing an environmental catastrophe while threatening to leave behind a fatal legacy, with the young and old most at risk.

Britain’s dirty plastics meant for recycling are being sent 6,500 miles away, where we found them being destroyed by illegal recycling plants run by ruthless Chinese gangsters.

While Brits pay a heavy price for recycling their rubbish, millions of items create mountains of waste scattered around Malaysia at various secret dumps.

The country has become the planet’s No.1 destination for plastic waste, after China, previously the biggest recipient, last year refused to take any more. Yeo Bee Yin blasted: “Garbage is traded under the pretext of recycling. What the citizens of the UK believe they have sent for recycling, is actually dumped in our country.”

The UK, which is expected to miss EU targets to recycle half its household waste by next year,

is reliant on exporting its rubbish to Far East countries.

The Mirror watched as ton after ton of plastic waste was taken from the port of Penang to a secret dump run by gangsters.

We also saw how the ruthless mob bosses running the trade fly-tip huge loads of Western rubbish in disused shops and houses, leaving the owners to then shoulder the cost of its proper disposal.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh has made returning almost 650 tons back to our shores a priority.

Delegates from Britain visited Malaysia to see the containers for themselves. “We opened the containers to show them.

They were shocked to see what the company sent to our port,” said Mr Phee.

“They... promised to take back the containers after getting approval.”

The 40ft containers, each carrying between 10 and 15 tons of plastic and municipal waste, continue to arrive in the port of Penang and Port Klang.

Mr Phee said: “We have said we cannot accept their dirty goods. We want them out of our country.”

In one case alone, a UK recycling company exported more than 50,000 tons of plastic waste in 1,000 containers to Malaysia in two years.

Delegates from Britain visited Malaysia to see the containers for themselves. “We opened the containers to show them.

“Children are particularly susceptible as they breathe it in on the walk to school. It is devastating for their lungs.”

The doctor was critical of Malaysian customs and police who he said were turning “a blind eye” to the dirty plastic arriving in the country.

“Dirty plastics are illegal here,” he said, “but hundreds of thousands of tons are getting through. It shows the hold the gangs now have on officials.”

In a direct message to the people of the UK, Dr Tneoh said: “Deal with your own rubbish because our country is ill-equipped to process all this waste and our people are suffering.”

Last year, Malaysia had 872,797 tons of plastic dumped on it – three times more than in 2016. It is now thought to be planning a ban.

In 2018, 665,000 tons of plastic were exported by the UK. Government figures show two-thirds of plastic waste separated for recycling in the UK is sent abroad and 105,000 tons were sent to Malaysia alone in 2017/18.

Heng Kiah Chun, Greenpeace Malaysia campaigner, told the Mirror: “Malaysia and other countries should not be used as dumping ground.

“Developed countries should stop putting their responsibility on to other countries for their own plastics problem and put in place policies to reduce single-use plastics with the aim of a complete end from its source.



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