Greenpeace investigation ‘finds Tower Hamlets recycling bags in Malaysian illegal dump site’

Tower Hamlets recycling bags dumped at an illegal dump site in Malaysia. Pic: Greenpeace

A Greenpeace investigation found Tower Hamlets recycling bags at an illegal dump site in Malaysia according to a new report.

Greenpeace said the bags from the borough were found in Jenjarom- about an hour’s drive from Malaysia.

The bags which are given to households then collected by the council were ripped open according to the journalists, who suggests that this was done “probably at a UK sorting facility”.

 As well as recycling bags writer Alice Ross said she found British plastic products such as Fairy dishwasher tablet packages, Flora butter boxes and plastic shopping bags.

Tower Hamlets describes its recycling process on its website. “Recycling is taken to Bywaters Materials Recovery Facility in Bow. Materials are sorted, baled and sent to recycling and reprocessing centres mostly within the UK.”

More often than not, exporting waste that cannot be recycled is illegal. However there are huge subsidies for exporting recyclable waste to other countries, usually Asia.

Since China have now banned plastic waste exports, Malaysia has been inundated with plastic scrap- and their system has not been able to keep up, hence the huge dumpsites in tropical conditions.

Tim Kiely of Tower Hamlets’ Green Party told Eastlondonlines: “Tower Hamlets Green Party has long been an advocate of the council taking more of an interest in how the borough manages its waste, and this story shows exactly why they should.

“We know from speaking to residents of the borough that there is a real appetite for recycling. People want to do their bit and reduce their consumption of other waste.

“But they also want producers to bear their share of the burden, both financial and logistical. The process needs to be transparent and effective. The Green Party will continue to push for the recycling system that we all want and deserve.”

Tower Hamlets council told Eastlondonlines: “Our materials recycling facility is run by Bywaters who process all material in line with EA and European Union controls. The materials that pass through the facility are shipped to licence holding reprocessors.

“All of our waste processors comply with EU law in line with our contractual arrangements. Any changes to the agreed arrangements and destinations are notified to the council to inspect and monitor. We have not received any reports from our contractors or seen any evidence of our material being found in Malaysia.”

Greenpeace UK senior oceans campaigner Louise Edge said: “These shocking pictures of UK household recycling dumped in illegal sites thousands of miles from home expose just how serious our plastic waste crisis is.

“The problem is that the companies making and selling single-use plastic are churning out more of the stuff than our recycling system can cope with. Unless we cut off the stream of plastic at the tap, we won’t stop the overflow of waste spilling out all around us, from Britain’s shores to illegal dumps halfway around the world.”

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