January 24, 2023
by Thomas A. Friedrich
The problem of Europe and the waste of prosperity should no longer be sent out of Europe. The European Parliament calls for a ban on the export of plastic waste in the next four years.
Despite the circular economy and the containment of plastic packaging and bags in retail, the amount of household waste, plastics and problematic substances from e-waste in the EU has increased dramatically in the last decade.
The amount of waste traded around the world is also constantly increasing: according to the OECD, 182 million tonnes were traded in 2018. The European Union contributes significantly to the growing mountains of waste.
According to Eurostat, the total volume of waste in the EU amounted to almost 100 million tons in 2021. One third of this (32.7 million tons) was sent to destination countries outside the EU. This is an increase of 77% compared to 2004. Turkey was the main destination country for EU waste in 2021 with around 14.7 million tonnes. The volume is three times higher than in 2004.
China no longer wants to act as a dumping ground for Europe
India (2.4 million t) ranks second in terms of EU export waste, ahead of Egypt (1.9 million t) followed by Switzerland (1.7 million t), Great Britain ( 1.5 million t) and Norway and Pakistan with 1.4 and 1.3 million t per year export volumes respectively.
As early as 2010, China imposed an EU waste import ban for most types of substances in the Middle Kingdom: Eurostat statistics show that the amount of waste shipped from the EU to China has continuously decreased in recent years. years. From a peak of 10.1 million t in 2009 to 0.4 million t in 2021. The People’s Republic of China, which was the second largest waste recipient country in the EU just ten years ago, has its limits for the EU waste shipments greatly reduced to less than half a million tons per year in the early 1920s.
The EU Parliament wants to largely prevent waste exports to third countries
The European Parliament adopted a report last week in response to the Commission’s proposal of November 17, 2021 to reform the “EU rules on waste shipments”. Establishes procedures and control measures for the transfer of waste, depending on the origin, destination and route of transport, the type of waste transported and the type of waste treatment at destination.
In an analysis published last week on waste streams within the union of states (heading: “EU measures to tackle the growing amount of hazardous waste”), the European Court of Auditors (ECA) complained that EU funds were wasted.
Although the EU Commission provided around €4.3 billion for waste management in the direction of a more circular economy from 2014 to 2020, the volume of problematic waste continued to increase.
The amount of hazardous waste in the EU continues to rise
“The EU must do something about the increasing amount of hazardous waste being generated,” said Eva Lindström of the European Court of Auditors. “Ideally, the waste should be recycled or used to generate energy. Removal should only be used as a last resort. Yet 50% of hazardous waste in the EU is still simply disposed of.
Although the EU Commission called for the goal of a circular economy to be the benchmark for product manufacturing in European companies as early as 1991, reality has lagged behind the goals for decades.
EU auditors stress that proper sorting and tracking of hazardous waste can help prevent mishandling and illegal waste disposal practices. One problem, for example, is the different classification of hazardous waste in the EU countries.
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