Green Party Cllr Ben Crystall says there should be an end to the global ‘displacement’ of waste – after data shows 37,000 tonnes of recyclables from Hertfordshire were shipped overseas last year.
Overall, data for 2020/21 shows that 276,379 tonnes of materials were collected from Herts homes for composting, recycling or reuse in 2020/21.
And this data shows that most of that material – 85.73 percent – was recycled in the UK.
But a staggering 34,301 tonnes of materials – including cardboard, paper, plastics, tires and textiles – were sent overseas for reprocessing last year, mostly in Asia.
Green Party County Councilor Ben Crystall told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the current practice is “foolish.”
He says he thinks the UK should have its own recycling industry – rather than “exporting our problems”.
And that, he says, would reduce carbon emissions, while providing financial benefits.
âWe send our problems to other countries, where vulnerable people end up having to sort our waste,â he said.
âAnd we’re creating more carbon by sending this stuff a long distance, which just doesn’t make sense.
âIf we want to fight climate change, we can’t have global systems that ship things from one side of the earth to the other because it’s slightly cheaper for an organization.
“We should have our own recycling industry here in the UK – and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Cllr Crystal suggests that existing markets are âbiasedâ in favor of manufacturers, leading companies to export their waste.
He says these markets don’t impose a real cost on packaging – letting everyone pay for the materials which will then be transferred overseas and recycled.
âThere is a financial argument that it might be cheaper to export,â he said.
“But that’s because of the current system that allows companies and markets to produce this stuff at very low prices.”
In contrast, he says recycling in the UK would create jobs and materials.
And he says the current status quo is one of the strongest arguments for an “appropriate carbon tax” – which could be used to support the growth of a recycling industry in the UK.
Following the latest data, he says he would like to see the county export less of its “trash” overseas – and for the county council to push for broader change.
According to the latest recycling data – which was compiled for inclusion in the Herts Waste Partnership’s annual report – no yard and food waste, glass, wood, cans or scrap metal from the county was sent overseas. for reprocessing in 2020/21.
But 34,301 tonnes of recyclable materials were shipped overseas – including 3,340 tonnes sent to Europe, 34,301 tonnes to Asia and 683 tonnes to Africa,
Most of this was the 31,380 tonnes of paper and cards that were shipped to Asia – with another 1,537 sent to Europe.
It includes 1,691 tonnes of plastics sent to Europe and 2,345 to Asia, as well as 78.62 tonnes of used tires sent to Asia.
In addition, 1,178 tonnes of textiles and footwear were shipped overseas, of which 494.99 tonnes were sent to Asia and 683.39 tonnes to Africa.