Not in my Backyard! – The Beauty in the Beast #3
With the third episode of "The Beauty In The Beast", we investigate the big issue of waste shipments and waste exports outside the European Union.
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Hosting outdoor parties, growing vegetables, or simply enjoying the weather on a sunny morning are small pleasures that can add a lot to our quality of life. For this reason, most people who have a garden in their homes are quite affectionate to it. But what if a person cleaning their garden disposes of their broken wooden chairs, barbecue charcoal by… throwing it over someone’s fence?
Similarly, in the last years, Europe followed a dangerous trend: transporting the waste in excess to somebody else’s backyard – with significant consequences to the environment.
What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve
In 2018, Europe produced a total of 2.32 billion tonnes of waste from all economic activities and households. Unfortunately, as the amount of generated waste exceeds the capacity of treatment facilities within the European Union, million tonnes of waste are shipped outside the European Free Trade Area, often going as far as Southeast Asia. Since 2004, EU exports of waste to non-EU countries increased by 75%.
As recipient countries cannot always adequately treat the waste they receive: landfilling, dumping, and open burning of waste have dramatically increased, with catastrophic effects on air, soil, rivers, and seas.
Over the last decade, the EU exported millions of tonnes of waste, mostly to Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India. Luckily, both the sender and the receiving ends are addressing this issue. Welcomed changes are happening in the EU, where rules on plastic waste shipment have been strengthened. In parallel, following the decision of China to phase out waste imports, other countries are planning bans to stop waste-related abuses.
However, if Europe aims to stop sending its waste abroad, can it take care of it by itself?
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