I completely understand concerns around plastic consumption and the responsible disposal of waste. I have always been a big supporter of environmental protection, and I am proud of the strong existing legal framework which regulates the export of waste. As you may be aware, it is illegal to export waste from the UK to be dumped or burned overseas. Businesses involved in the export of waste are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling. It is welcome that over the last 12 months, monitoring by the Environment Agency has had a particular focus on preventing illegal plastic waste exports.
We are recycling more in the UK than ever before. This is not only good for the environment but can boost economic growth and create jobs. Where the UK cannot currently recycle materials economically, exports can help ensure those materials are recycled in recipient countries. While there is a legitimate global market for secondary materials, it must be, and is, subject to strict controls.
With regard to the specific issue of Turkey, I am encouraged that the Environment Agency has been proactively engaging with the Turkish authorities on the issue of illegal plastic waste exports over the past year. As you may be aware, Turkey has now banned the import of most plastic waste.
However, I know that we must go further which is why the government has outlined a 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out the ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.
I was also elected on a manifesto which pledged to ban the export of all plastic waste to non-OECD countries, and I would like to reassure you that my Ministerial colleagues remain committed to clamping down on illegal waste exports. I know that Ministers plan to introduce tougher controls on illegal waste exports, and the Environment Bill includes a power to introduce mandatory electronic tracking of waste which will make it harder for criminals to obtain and export waste illegally.