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Greenpeace: UK plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey

Greenpeace: UK plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey

A Greenpeace has said “that Europe is still dumping plastic waste on other countries.” following a new report published today(May 17).

Releasing new photo and video evidence shows that plastic bags and packaging from the UK and Germany are being dumped and burned across southern Turkey.

The Greenpeace UK report features photos with British grocery packaging in piles of burning and smoking plastic, three thousand kilometres away from the shops where the products were sold.

Also published today is a Greenpeace Germany document featuring new analysis of plastic waste exports from Germany to Turkey. Saying “Packaging from German supermarkets such as Lidl, Aldi, EDEKA and REWE was found. In addition plastic waste from products of the brands Henkel, Em-eukal, NRJ and Hella.”

“As this new evidence shows, plastic waste coming from Europe to Turkey is an environmental threat not an economic opportunity. Uncontrolled imports of plastic waste do nothing but increase the problems existing in Turkey’s own recycling system. Around 241 truckloads of plastic waste come to Turkey every day from across Europe and it overwhelms us. As far as we can see from the data and the field, we continue to be Europe’s largest plastic waste dump,” said Nihan Temiz Ataş, Biodiversity Projects Lead from Greenpeace Mediterranean, based in Turkey.

The report identified ten sites around the Adana province in southwestern Turkey, where their investigators documented piles of plastic waste dumped illegally by the roadside, in fields or spilling into waterways. In many cases the plastic was on fire or had been burned.

Plastic from the UK was evident at all of these sites, and plastic from Germany was found at most of them. The report said “It included packaging and plastic bags from seven of the top 10 UK 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 Wurfel, Ja! and peach water packaging.”

“The UK’s current approach to plastic waste exports is part of a history of environmental racism carried out through dumping toxic or hazardous pollutants. The impacts of plastic waste exports on human health and the environment are disproportionately felt by communities of colour. These communities have fewer political, economic, and legal means to oppose toxic dumping, so companies can act with impunity. As long as the UK avoids properly managing and reducing its own waste, it will be upholding this structural inequality. The UK government wouldn’t allow other countries’ waste to be dumped here, so why is it acceptable to make it another country’s problem?” said Sam Chetan-Welsh, political campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

The UK exported 210,000 tonnes of plastic waste to Turkey in 2020, Greenpeace has said exported waste has “increased by a factor of 18 between 2016 and 2020, from 12,000 tonnes to 210,000 tonnes, when Turkey received almost 40% of the UK’s plastic waste exports.”


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