Greenpeace UK is calling on the government to enact the Environment Bill and use the powers within it to ban all plastic waste exports, not just to non-OECD members.
A report released by Greenpeace Mediterranean today (9 February), Game of Waste, suggests five sites in southern Turkey are ‘extensively contaminated’ with hazardous chemical pollutants, following what Greenpeace calls the ‘illegal dumping and open burning’ of imported plastic waste.
Last year Greenpeace investigators said they found UK grocery packaging dumped in the same five areas.
Greenpeace says that scientists found that levels of toxic chemicals* in the soil and ash at some of these locations are ‘thousands of times higher’ than control sites.
Samples of soil, ash, water and sediment collected from the five sites were examined by scientists from both Greenpeace Research Laboratories and an independent laboratory, the campaigners say.
They tested to identify ‘as many chemical pollutants as possible’, and also measured the concentrations of more than 60 chemical pollutants generally associated with plastic packaging or the burning of plastics.
The presence of a wide range of toxic chemicals was identified in ash and soil samples from all five locations, Greenpeace says.
Dr Kevin Brigden, one of the scientists who carried out the analysis, said: “Many of the chemical pollutants found in the samples of ash and underlying soil are highly resistant to breaking down in the environment and can build up in animals and humans over time.
“Levels of these pollutants were very high at some of these sites where plastic imported from countries including the UK gets dumped.”