Milton Keynes Council has said that it is “appalled” after it was told waste collected by the council had been discovered in a jungle in Malaysia over 6,000 miles away.
A three-part BBC documentary looking at the UK’s use of plastics begins today (10 June). The council was informed by the programme makers that during research in Malaysia they found approximately 50 Milton Keynes Council pink recycling sacks in a giant area of dumped plastics.
In the documentary Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall visits the mound of recycling waste found by Greenpeace in the Malaysian jungle.
The council said that it does not export waste to Malaysia and is “appalled” to see the misuse of its recycling sacks.
“The way much UK plastic waste is treated is shocking and alternatives must be found fast,” it says.
A small amount of specific plastics are currently traded to Taiwan so that they can follow the same process into new items.
“We only work with reputable suppliers who have a clear picture of where recyclable material goes, right throughout the supply chain, and our suppliers have reconfirmed to us that our recyclable materials are dealt with properly,” the council said in a statement.
All household material collected for recycling in MK is taken to its Materials Recycling Facility in Wolverton where the sacks are ripped open and the contents sorted by type, it says.
“The sacks themselves and most other plastic items are processed in the UK where they’re turned into pellets or small fragments suitable to be manufactured into new plastic goods.
“A small amount of specific plastics are currently traded to Taiwan so that they can follow the same process into new items. Our suppliers work with Environment Agency accredited facilities and fully track all plastics on this journey.
“Black bag waste goes directly to our state of the art facility in Wolverton where it’s recovered for recycling, organically treated and turned into energy.”
The council says the most likely cause of the MK recycling sacks found in Malaysia is “misuse”.
“Until recently we issued millions of recycling sacks a year, but far fewer ended up being used for household recycling. It’s one of the reasons we introduced an online ordering system last year.”
The council says it asked to be interviewed as part of the programme, but this was declined.
The news follows the recent story that Malaysia will send back 3,000 tonnes of contaminated waste to countries including the UK, America, Australia and Canada, after sixty shipping containers had been smuggled into illegal processing facilities in the country.