« Turkey has become Europe’s top plastic waste importer since 2018. Documents of the environmental damage caused by waste imports are on display in the new Greenpeace Mediterranean exhibition » reports Bianet English.
Greenpeace Mediterranean has launched an online exhibition where it displays pieces of plastic waste imported to Turkey from European countries.
Ironially titled « The Trace of Western Civilizations in Anatolia, » the exhibition intends to raise awareness of Europe’s increased waste exports to Turkey, which it calls « waste imperialism. »
« When you go to Europe, there is almost no garbage on the streets. However, European countries make less fortunate communities around the world pay for their own sins of overconsumption of plastic, » Greenpeace said in a press release.
Until when it banned plastic waste imports in January 2018, China was the most common destination for Europe’s plastic waste. Since then, Turkey has replaced it.
Most of the waste imported from Europe is not recycled but is left or burned in open areas, especially in the southern province of Adana, previous Greenpeace investigations revealed.
After public reactions, Turkey banned a specific type of plastic waste, but a week later, allowed it again with « increased controls. »
The exhibition includes photographs documenting the environmental damage caused by the imported waste.
You can view the exhibition on bukimincopu.org.
Turkey’s plastic waste imports
Turkey’s plastic waste imports rapidly increased after early 2018, when China imposed bans on waste imports. In 2019 and 2020, Turkey was the largest importer of Europe’s plastic waste.
According to Eurostat and UK Office for National Statistics figures compiled by Greenpeace;
Turkey imported 659,960 tons of plastic waste from the EU countries and the UK in 2020, up by 13 percent from the previous year. Some 241 truckloads of plastic waste came to Turkey from those countries every day.
• In 2019, Turkey imported 582,296 tons of plastic waste from the EU countries and the UK.
• Twenty-eight percent of Europe’s plastic waste exports were to Turkey in 2020.
• Turkey’s plastic waste imports increased by 196 times between 2004 and 2020.
• In 2020, the top five countries that sent the most plastic waste to Turkey were the UK (209,642 tons), Belgium (137,071 tons), Germany (136,083 tons), the Netherlands (49,496 tons) and Slovenia (24,884 tons).
Bianet English, April 15, 2022, Photo/Caner Ozkan/Greenpeace/PA