Following hot on the heels of earlier news this year, which reported that the UK’s plastic waste is being sent abroad for recycling,  it’s now emerged there are dirty business dealings going on within the wider UK plastics recycling industry. As widespread fraud and corruption have been uncovered by The Environment Agency (EA), the UK’s plastic waste is in actual fact, being sent straight to landfill abroad and is even finding its way into oceans and rivers.

Read on to discover how this dirty revelation affects your waste management and how Skip It can help keep your plastic recycling clean and scandal-free.

The dirty truth of recycling – the low-down

The truth is that some of the UK’s plastic recycling exporters have been caught in the epicentre of a serious industry scandal and are accused of being involved in widespread corruption and fraud at this end of the recycling business chain. As many as six UK plastic waste exporting companies have had their licences cancelled or suspended since August this year, including one unnamed business that has had as many as 57 plastic waste containers stopped at UK ports over the last three years due to contamination concerns.

At Skip It, whether it’s our own municipal waste, house clearance services or business waste collection services, we make sure that over 90 per cent of the waste is recycled through accredited providers.

What are the allegations?

There are a number of serious fraud and corruption allegations that are currently being investigated by The Environment Agency. They have set up a special team, which includes retired police officers, to get to the bottom of what’s been going on and to clean up the UK’s recycling export industry.

The allegations are as follows:

  • There are illegal shipments of UK plastic recycling waste that are being re-directed via The Netherlands to the Far East
  • Several UK companies with serious charges have been allowed to continue to illegally ship contaminated plastic waste out of the country
  • The UK’s plastic waste is, in fact, being left to pollute rivers and oceans rather than being recycled
  • Some UK plastic exporters are making fraudulent claims for tonnes of plastic waste that might not even exist – reaching into the tens of thousands

Source: UK plastics recycling industry under investigation for fraud and corruption, by Sandra Laville, The Guardian, 19th October 2018.

Where does the problem lie?

According to the investigators, the problem lies with the plastic recycling exporting system, which has been criticised in the past to being open to fraud, which has now been found to be true. The plastic exporting industry is making millions when it charges UK retailers and manufacturers for plastic waste recovery notes or Perns, which are currently valued at £60 per tonne of plastic waste.

This figure fluctuates and manufacturers and retailers are obliged to purchase Perns to prove to the UK government that they are meeting guidelines on plastic packaging recycling. The problem is that the Perns system is vulnerable to fraud and relies on the plastic exporting businesses honestly declaring how much plastic packaging waste they are actually exporting out of the country.

The EA have discovered massive discrepancies from the number of actual plastic exports that HM customs have recorded and the total number of shipments, which some plastic exporters have claimed were actually shipped out. The latest figure for this discrepancy is 35,135 tonnes more plastic than HM customs have on their books, in order to game the Pern price.

Criminals are exploiting the plastic packaging waste export system for financial gains and the worst part is that once the rubbish finally reaches its destination in the Far East, it is being sent to sites which haven’t been approved by the EA for recycling and is instead being left to pollute the environment, flowing into rivers and ending up in the ocean.

Did you know that Skip It works with a network of verified recycling facilities, we make sure that your waste helps contribute to a responsible, sustainable future and we keep the paper trail to prove it. Contact us today on to find out more about our commitment to recycling.

How did this scandal break?

The current infrastructure for recycling plastics domestically in the UK is only able to recycle nine per cent of the 3.3 million tonnes of plastic waste that is being produced annually. This is the reason behind two-thirds of the UK’s waste plastic being sent abroad for recycling and this will continue unless the government steps in to redress the UK’s recycling industry.

Since China stopped taking the UK’s plastic waste in January 2018, the plastic export industry was sending shipments to Poland, Vietnam and Malaysia. However, these countries are becoming wary of the contamination of UK plastic waste and are considering imposing restrictions on accepting UK plastic waste, so the government are shopping around to find other countries that will accept it, such as The Netherlands and Turkey.

In light of this, the dirty secret of the UK’s plastics exporting industry has been laid bare, which has serious implications for the 2020 deadline to half the UK’s plastic waste.

How companies like Skip It are helping solve the problem

When you book any of Skip It’s commercial or residential waste removal services, such as rip outs, Ro-Ro’sGrab LorryWait & Load and Skip Hire, you can be sure that over 90 per cent of your waste will be responsibly recycled with accredited, local waste management and recycling companies.

Our team of local, third-party plastic recycling centres have been thoroughly checked and their paperwork has been extensively vetted to ensure that they are compliant with current recycling laws, because being environmentally friendly is of huge importance to us and is one of our corporate values.

We want our customers to put their trust in us to help reduce as much of their waste as possible from entering landfill sites, which is why we ensure that our waste is sent to responsible and professional companies that we trust to dispose of your waste properly.

To find out more about how we can help you manage your waste the green way, contact our friendly team today.