Europe doesn’t like trash, so we dump it (illegally)
Contrary to what many people think, most countries do not process their own plastic trash. Less than 10% of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste that we have produced globally has ever been recycled. Millions of tonnes of plastic garbage is dumped or burned in landfills every year, or are transported thousands of kilometers. The United States and Japan are the only bigger exporters of plastic trash to countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia than The Netherlands.
In 30 percent of shipments, these are not actually legal. For instance: in 2021 OLAF intercepted 800 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic waste on its way to Malaysia. The containers on paper were filed with clean raw materials. In another case 350 tonnes of plastic waste in 16 containers was blocked before they could be shipped to Turkey from the port of Genoa by a Slovenian intermediary. The waste had been produced by an Italian company. According to the EU, illegal trafficking represents up to 30% of all waste shipments in Europe and is worth €9.5 billion annually.
The European Commission has proposed the revision of the Waste Shipment directive. With the new rules are the EU hopes to make an end to big exports of plastic waste to third countries. Local recycling companies in countires like Malaysia, Vietnam or Indonesia portray thatthey are capable of recycling our trash, but end up dumping or burning the waste for a profit. Effectively moving co2 emmisions to the other side of the world. Exporters of waste from the EU will no longer be allowed to send mixed plastics, and will be offered digitalization benefits. The revised Regulation is expected to be applicable as of 2024. These new rules are ‘A big step towards a circulair economy in the EU, making recycling not an option but the option’. MEP Sara Matthieu said.