Last week, Greenpeace released the results of an investigation carried out into the dumping of plastic waste from Europe in countries abroad, in particular Turkey. According to Greenpeace, ever since China’s ban on exported plastic waste in 2017, Turkey has seen a huge rise in waste coming from the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe.
The organization released photo and video evidence showing that plastic bags and packaging from the U.K. and Germany are being dumped and burned across southern Turkey.
PlasticsEurope, the Brussels-based pan-European association of plastics manufacturers, has now released a statement in which it condemns the practice, calling for stricter enforcement of the controls on waste shipments and better cooperation between the enforcement authorities on a country level.
In August 2020, Interpol issued a report which flagged a significant increase in plastic waste crime.
“We welcomed the Report’s conclusions and have expressed since then the urgency to increase enforcement of existing global and national legislation on waste trade which PlasticsEurope fully backs,” the statement ran.
Virginia Janssens, managing director of PlasticsEurope also said that ‘more radical measures are needed to stop this issue.’
“This is why we also urged the international community to step up the development of efficient monitoring systems to tackle the lack of waste traceability and to improve collection of reliable data.”
The trade organization further stated its "determination to collaborate with the waste industry sector in the elaboration, development and implementation of a global certification platform for recycling which we believe will help reduce the illegal waste trade issue." Moreover, retaining these materials for recycling within the European Union may serve to further stimulate Europe’s transformation into a circular economy.
“We need the right mechanisms in place that include innovative technologies, such as chemical recycling, and new waste minimization business models. To facilitate domestic recycling, appropriate legislation is needed to rapidly remove remaining barriers to intra-EU movement of waste for recycling,” Janssens said.
Plastics manufacturers are currently investing billions of euros in capacity for chemical recycling, to complement mechanical recycling, and will continue to do so. Planned investments in Europe amount to more than 7 billion euros by 2030. The aim is to deliver significant quantities of recycled plastics with virgin plastic properties.
In addition, PlasticsEurope is a member of the European Commission’s Circular Plastics Alliance, which aims to reach the target of 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics being used in European products by 2025.