Waste

Exporting your Dirty Washing, or Wasting a Resource?

The UK is particularly good at exporting its wastes.  We generate a lot of it and have insufficient domestic disposal/reuse solutions.  This is mainly due to a vociferous public and the Environment Agency operating on a limited budget; neither are able, or enabled, to take a pragmatic approach.  This lack of domestic disposal options is coming home to roost.  Back in April 2017 the UK Tyre Recycling Association reported on the increasing cost of tyre disposal as: storage constraints were increasing (to minimise fire hazards) and; shipping rates were going up making export to Asia costly.  Meanwhile other countries are also finding export an easier way to avoid domestic landfill and incineration; international gate fees have therefore increased. Exporting wastes is costing UK PLC ££ (that’s you and me in practice) and wasting resources.  This is all a political hot potato, but could get worse. If we think getting a post Brexit trade deal on straight bananas with the EU may be tricky, I wonder what discussions over sending wastes to the EU will be like? Even without export constraints (be they regulatory or financial), the practice of exporting waste is questionable. In principle the practice is regulated with exports only going to countries that dispose of them in an environmentally acceptable way (e.g. the Basel Convention). However if we ship used tyres to Country A we have no way of being certain that used tires previously disposed there are now being diverted to Country B, with lower environmental criteria. Domestic use of waste both minimises environmental impacts and retains valuable resources in the UK.

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