Schoolgirl’s Plastic Waste Petition Gains 70K Signatures

A petition launched by a nine-year old, calling for a ban on shipments of plastic waste to developing countries, has gained over 70,000 signatures in less than a week, according to a report in the Guardian. The schoolgirl, identified only as Lizzie A, decided to start the petition after studying plastic pollution at school.

Non-recyclable plastic waste is often illegally burned, or dumped in landfills or waterways, where it can find its way into the sea. Plastic pollution in the oceans is already a major environmental problem, causing lasting damage to marine life. Lizzie’s petition has hit a nerve at a time when environmental damage is at the forefront of people’s concerns.

The EU has banned the shipment of non-recyclable plastic waste to developing countries from 1st January 2021. However, Britain’s new post-Brexit regulations will continue to allow unsorted plastic waste to be exported, despite a Tory party manifesto pledge to ban the practice, and a promise to uphold environmental standards post-Brexit.

Tim Grabiel, environmental lawyer at the Environmental Investigation Agency, commented: “We would have liked to see the UK show leadership and align with the EU in going the extra step and banning plastics to non-OECD countries. If 27 states of the EU can do it, then the UK certainly can. We hope in time the UK will reconsider its position.”

The UK is the largest producer of plastic waste in Europe, and exports around two-thirds of the total sum. Post-Brexit, it will operate a system of “prior informed consent”. This means that the importer has to agree to accept the waste, and has the option to refuse it.

According to a further report in the Guardian, a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the government had “pledged to ban the export of all plastic waste to non-OECD countries.” They also said that research had been commissioned on the issue, but no timescale for action was given.

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