UK MPs have backed an appeal for a national plastic packaging plan by cross-party think tank Policy Connect calling for zero plastic packaging ‘waste’ exports.

The Plastic Packaging Plan: Achieving Zero ‘Waste’ Exports report states that the UK must change its approach to plastic packaging waste if it wants to be a global environmental leader. The report also calls for a “bold national policy framework to reduce ocean plastic overseas and boost domestic infrastructure investment, innovation and green jobs.”

Cross-party MPs backing the national plastic packaging plan include Committee on Climate Change chair Lord Deben and House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh.

Policy Connect CEO Jonathan Shaw said: “Britain’s used plastic export habit is costing our economy and the planet. We can no longer sweep our plastic rubbish problem under other countries’ carpets. British consumers want to recycle more but our lack of UK reprocessing plants and circular policies are letting them down.

“We need a bold national plastics plan that we can all be proud of to protect the marine environment, to kick-start infrastructure investment and jobs, and to boost UK demand for recycled plastics.”

Secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove MP acknowledged that the UK will need to stop “offshoring our dirt.” Policy Connect claims that significant investments in domestic recycling will need to be made to accomplish this goal.

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Creagh said: “Exporting two-thirds of the UK’s plastic waste overseas is bad for jobs, business and our environment. I welcome the call for the UK to commit to a bold target of zero exports of plastic packaging by 2030.

“Achieving this will require home-grown solutions such as implementing a Deposit Return Scheme by 2022 and applying a coffee cup levy as my Committee recommended. We can and must transition from exporting our plastic waste problem to growing our own solutions.”

The report comes at a time when UK public waste concerns are at a high with discussions surrounding Brexit and EU regulations. The government is due to hold talks this year to further ensure the effectiveness of its Resource and Waste Strategy (RWS), which was announced last year.