RECYCLED plastics separated by environmentally friendly residents have been found dumped on the other side of the world after being collected by councils.

Recycling bags with plastic waste picked up by Basildon Council and Castle Point Council have been spotted 6,000 miles away in Malaysia.

A report by Unearthed, an investigations branch of the environmental group Greenpeace, named and shamed five councils after recycling bags were spotted at various sites in the west of the country.

The UK exports around two thirds of its plastic waste to foreign countries, which reached more than one million tonnes in 2016.

The majority of this went to China, but as of January this year, the country placed an import ban on some waste meaning some was sent to Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand instead.

Unearthed found plastic containers for British household products such as butter, washing liquid, mouthwash, crisps and dog food among the waste in Malaysian landfill sites.

A spokesman for Basildon Council admitted it did send plastic waste, which was meant for recycling, to Malaysia from January to May this year.

A council spokesman said: “Our recycling is collected in plastic bags and the dry mixed recyclables are retained and sorted within the UK at Viridor’s Crayford Materials Recycling Facility.

“None of this co-mingled material is exported.

“The bags, as a recyclable material stream, have previously been sent overseas for reprocessing but no Basildon Council bags have been sent to Malaysia since May 2018 due to changing market conditions for this grade of plastic.

“When the bags were sent to Malaysia, this was through an Environment Agency accredited and licensed processing facility where it was to become an end-of-waste product with no further onward trading as waste.

“An end-of-waste product refers to waste reprocessed, often to produce a pellet or flake, which can be reused as a recyclable material.”

The council is now looking at UK based facilities to convert bags into pellets.

A spokesman for Castle Point Council sought to distance itself from the end destination.

The spokesman said: “Castle Point Council delivers its dry recycling to James Waste, an Environment Agency licensed materials recovery facility where it is separated into separate waste streams.

“The company James Waste decides where each waste stream is sent for processing.

James Waste is subject to regular inspection by the Environment Agency.”

It was also suggested residents may have in fact decided to dispose of the bags by other means.