Recycling sacks from Milton Keynes Council have been found on a giant plastic waste mountain deep in the Malaysian jungle, the Citizen can reveal.
TV personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes the astonishing find while filming a BBC documentary due to be screened next month.
In the 20ft high mound of Hugh finds all-too-familiar MK Council recycling bags, along with an array of packaging from M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose.
“It’s like some dystopian nightmare... a plastic planet,” he said.
Hugh discovers the plastic, which also includes bags from councils in London and Essex, is shipped to Malaysia then dumped or burned.
There is a legitimate market in overseas recycling and last year 665,000 tons of plastic waste were exported by the UK.
The UK’s Environment Agency is investigating that organised criminals and firms are abusing the recycling export system.
They say the law is clear and any waste exported must be for recycling and . Under no circumstances should exported waste be dumped.
Hugh said: “When we put this in our recycling back in the UK, we think we’re doing the right thing. I do my recycling and I feel good about it.
“At least I used to – I don’t feel so good now. I feel embarrassed, I feel ashamed, I feel angry, I feel I’ve been lied to.”
MK Council leader Pete Marland said the sacks had not been sent to Malaysia by the council.
He said all recycling sacks collected in MK are opened and processed inside Milton Keynes.
“We do not export waste to Malaysia or any other country,” he said. “The most likely cause of the issue is a misuse of sacks by businesses that use poor quality waste contractors.”
Another cause could be people from outside of MK misusing the sacks for other collection schemes.
Pete said; “Misuse of sacks was a big reason we introduced an online ordering system, something the local Tories continue to oppose.”
Recycling levels in Milton Keynes increased last year.
Meanwhile all the city’s black bag waste collected by the council is processed in Wolverton and turned into energy.