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Mountain of bottles exposing Egypt’s recycling shame: Discarded plastic bottles swamp recycling center near UN summit

  • Discarded bottles almost swamp the recycling centre near Sharm El Sheikh
  • Egypt is ‘awash’ with plastic which blights towns and beaches across the country
  • Some of the bottles feature the label of Coca-Cola, which is sponsoring Cop27 

It’s the other side of COP27 which Rishi Sunak and his fellow global leaders are unlikely to see.

A deluge of discarded bottles almost swamps the recycling centre near the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh, highlighting the stark problem facing the environmental summit’s host.

Egypt is ‘awash’ with plastic which blights towns and beaches across the country and degrades delicate marine ecosystems along its coasts, according to a recent study.

Many of the bottles pictured feature the distinctive red label of Coca-Cola, the global multinational that has been allowed to sponsor the event despite producing 120bn plastic bottles a year and facing claims it is one of the world’s worst polluters.

Large signs around the resort declare: ‘Sharm is going single-use plastic free.’

But the pictures taken last week at the South Sinai Flower recycling centre a short drive outside the town show how far that noble ambition is to reality.

And the vast majority of the nation’s discarded plastic never makes it to recycling.

Near the capital Cairo, environmental groups marked the start of Cop27 by building a ‘plastic pyramid’ using a million bottles recovered from the River Nile.

The 33ft high and 39ft wide structure – constructed in the Giza desert to mimic the ancient pyramids – was created by eco startup Zero Co with the help of Egyptian environmental group VeryNile.

The amount of plastic waste in the river means this is the second plastic pyramid the group VeryNile has built in just three months.

Related Links: 
Analysis of Greenpeace’s business model & philosophy: Greenpeace wants a piece of your green

All Green Cash and Not Very Peaceful: Endless Dirty Tricks and Hidden Secrets of Greenpeace (has a focus on plastics)