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Investigation finds that plastic from Great Britain and Germany has been illegally dumped in Turkey | Greenpeace int.

London, United Kingdom - The results of a Greenpeace investigation released today show that Europe is still dumping plastic waste in other countries. New photo and video evidence shows that plastic bags and packaging from the UK and Germany are dumped and incinerated in southern Turkey.

A Greenpeace UK report shows shocking photos of British food packaging in piles of burning and smoking plastic three thousand kilometers from the stores where the products were sold. Also released today is a Greenpeace Germany document with a new analysis of plastic waste exports from Germany to Turkey. Packaging from German supermarkets such as Lidl, Aldi, EDEKA and REWE was found. In addition, plastic waste from products of the Henkel, Em-eukal, NRJ and Hella brands.

“As this new evidence shows, plastic waste entering Turkey from Europe is an environmental threat, not an economic opportunity. Uncontrolled imports of plastic waste only exacerbate the existing problems in Turkey's own recycling system. Around 241 truckloads of plastic waste come to Turkey from all over Europe every day and it overwhelms us. As far as we can read from the data and the field, we are still Europe's largest plastic waste dump. " said Nihan Temiz Ataş, Biodiversity Projects Lead of Greenpeace Mediterranean based in Turkey.

At ten locations in Adana Province in southwestern Turkey, investigators documented piles of plastic waste illegally dumped on the roadside, in fields or in bodies of water downstream. In many cases the plastic was on fire or was burned. Plastic from the UK was found in all of these locations, and plastic from Germany was found in most. It included packaging and plastic bags from seven of the UK's top 10 supermarkets such as Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury's and Tesco, as well as other retailers such as Spar. German plastic included a bag from Rossmann, snack cubes, yes! and peach water wraps. [1]

At least some of the plastic waste had recently been dumped. At one location, packaging for a COVID-19 antigen test was found under bags of British plastic, suggesting the waste was less than a year old. Recognizable brand names on the packaging included Coca Cola and PepsiCo.

“It is horrific to see our plastic in burning piles on the edge of Turkish streets. We have to stop throwing our plastic waste in other countries. The core of the problem is overproduction. Governments need to get their own plastic problems under control. You should ban the export of plastic waste and reduce single-use plastic. German garbage must be disposed of in Germany. The latest news speaks of 140 containers full of plastic waste from German households that are in Turkish ports. Our government must take them back immediately. " says Manfred Santen, chemist at Greenpeace Germany.

“The UK's current approach to exporting plastic waste is part of a history of environmental racism practiced through the disposal of toxic or dangerous pollutants. The effects of the export of plastic waste on human health and the environment are disproportionately perceived by colored communities. These communities have fewer political, economic and legal resources to tackle toxic waste, leaving companies with impunity. As long as Britain avoids properly managing and reducing its own waste, it will perpetuate this structural inequality. The UK government would not allow other countries' garbage to be dumped here, so why is it acceptable to make it another country's problem? " said Sam Chetan-Welsh, a political activist with Greenpeace UK.

A new opinion poll by YouGov on behalf of Greenpeace UK shows: 86% of the UK public are concerned on the amount of plastic waste the UK produces. This is also shown by the survey: 81% of the UK public think that the government is should do more about plastic waste in the UK, and that 62% of people to support the UK government in stopping UK plastic waste exports to other countries.

Since China's export ban on plastic waste in 2017, Turkey has seen a huge surge in waste from the UK and other parts of Europe. [2] Greenpeace urges businesses and governments to End plastic pollution and toxic waste dumps.



[1] The Greenpeace UK report Trashed: How Britain is still dumping plastic waste on the rest of the world is available for viewing here.. The Greenpeace Germany document is available here..

Some of the key facts referred to include:

  • Plastic packaging and bags from UK and German supermarkets as well as global brands were found at several locations
  • es ist to export illegally Plastic waste from the UK and Germany unless intended to be recycled or incinerated in a waste incinerator
  • The UK exported 210.000 tons of plastic waste to Turkey in 2020
  • Germany exports 136.000 tons of plastic waste to Turkey in 2020
  • More than the half The plastic waste that the UK government considers recycled is actually being sent overseas.
  • CA 16% of plastic waste the Federal government is considered recycled is actually sent abroad.

[2] UK plastic waste exports to Turkey increased 2016-fold from 2020-18 12.000 tons to 210.000 tonswhen Turkey received almost 40% of UK plastic waste exports. During the same period, exports of plastic waste from Germany to Turkey increased sevenfold, from 6.700 tons to 136.000 Metric tons. Much of this plastic was mixed plastic, which is extremely difficult to recycle. In August 2020, INTERPOL noted an alarming increase in the illegal trade in plastic pollution around the world, in which imported plastic waste is illegally disposed of and then incinerated.

Photos: Greenpeace

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