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S&Ds: The world is not our trash bin. We need to stop EU plastic waste exports to third countries


17 Jan 2023


Climate & Environment

S&Ds: The world is not our trash bin. We need to stop EU plastic waste exports to third countries

Following the strong vote today in favour of the report ´Shipments of waste´, the European Parliament’s voice on plastic waste exports to third countries has been loud, clear and united: we will no longer allow our waste to be sent to some of the most vulnerable parts of the world. We will no longer accept a compromise of the environment and human health to meet our waste demands. The EU Parliament now has a strong mandate for the negotiations with the Council to move forward towards a functioning circular economy.

The shadow rapporteur and S&D Member, Cyrus Engerer, said:

“The European Parliament has today adopted its position on the revision of waste shipment rules that will establish new rules for EU waste exports, making it easier to transport waste for recycling or re-use in the EU. It has also set out new measures to better tackle illegal waste shipments.

“One of the main elements of the Parliament’s position is to bring an end to the exportation of all our plastic waste outside of the EU, thanks to the S&Ds insistence. The way that Europe has handled exports of plastic waste in the past has given rise to catastrophic realities in countries like Turkey, which received around half of Europe’s plastics in both 2020 and 2021. This has led to dire consequences to the environment, from leakages of plastic waste in the ocean to challenges relating to waste dumping and treatment in these regions. It has also severely disrupted the lives of vulnerable people living close to these plastic waste plants, including considerable health problems and child labour being used in dumping sites.

“We want to put an end to this unethical stain on Europe’s trade and environmental history, and that is why in the Parliament we want to see the phasing out of these plastic waste exports.

“The time for double standards is over. If we expect high climate and environmental standards from our partners abroad, we need to stop exporting pollution to third countries just to meet our waste demands. It’s time to walk the talk and by means of today’s vote, the European Parliament is putting forward a united front against these practices and it stands ready to bring forward its ambition in the negotiations with the Council.”

S&D coordinator in the environment committee, Tiemo Wölken, added:

"According to Eurostat, the EU exported the unimaginable amount of 32.7 million tons of waste in 2020 alone. Exports have almost doubled since 2004. The motto clearly seems to be: out of sight, out of mind. Of course, this waste does not really disappear.

"If done properly, the waste should at least be recycled at its destination where possible. However, our waste frequently ends up in gigantic landfills that not only devastates stretches of land, but also poisons them and causes lasting damage to animal and plant life all over the world, from Turkey to India to Malaysia.

“This is why we are happy that the European Parliament makes it clear that this reckless behaviour must stop now, particularly when it comes to the export of hazardous and toxic plastic waste. The fact that we want the export of plastic waste to be banned in general within four years is a huge success. But the truth is also that the export of non-recyclable waste remains possible in many cases. Despite this shortcoming, however, this report is a huge step in the right direction.”


European Institute of Peace
Research Consultants
International Association for Democracy (IAD)
Lobbying Officer (voluntary)
European Food Banks Federation
Head of ​Fundraising and Partnerships​​
European Affairs Consulting Group (Eacon)
EU Public Affairs Trainee
International Commission of Jurists - European Institutions
Programme Manager
Terre des Hommes International Federation
Child and Youth Participation Advisor (Environment & Climate)
KIOS Foundation
Team leader
European Parliament, office of MEP Siegfried Mureșan
Accredited Parliamentary Assistant, office of MEP Siegfried Mureșan