Europe Should Stop Exporting Plastic Wastes to Malaysia and Other Countries

A new report issued by the European Commission this summer indicates that 19 out of the 27 European Union (EU) states are at risk of missing their plastics recycling targets. Their collective goal was to recycle 50% of their plastic waste – it doesn’t appear they will get there by 2025. Turkey has in effect, become Europe’s landfill – taking in some 40% of EU trash, according to Bloomberg. (Source: Modus Operandi)

Households in EU, the US, Japan were vigilantly separating their waste to be recycled. Many were not aware that the waste was being transported overseas, and mostly to developing countries, supposedly to be recycled. The EU has been shipping their plastic waste to countries such as Turkey and Malaysia, regardless of the hazardous working conditions and toxic leakage to nearby communities. This is extremely unjust.

The EU should not let other countries to bear the responsibility of their waste in the name of trade, especially sending out their waste to weaker economies that have less ability to manage imported waste in addition to their own. Effective waste management should be based on the principles of proximity. Take responsibility for your own waste.

In October 2022, the Break Free From Plastic movement and Rethink Plastic Alliance strongly advocated for the EU to end the export of plastic waste outside the EU, to both OECD (e.g. Turkey) and non-OECD (e.g. Malaysia) countries. The Malaysia Stop Waste Trade Coalition and other NGOs sent letters to the Members in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament Environment Committee voted in favour of a ban on EU plastic waste exports and stronger safeguarding measures for intra-EU plastic waste shipments. The vote showed that the EU acknowledged how plastic waste exports act as a loophole, also enabling the continued high levels of EU plastic production and consumption.

In January 2023 the EU Parliament adopted its negotiating position for talks with EU governments on the new law to revise EU procedures and control measures for waste shipments.

IPEN: for a toxics-free future