An investigation conducted by non-profit environmental organisation Greenpeace has found that the UK and Germany are illegally disposing of plastic bags and packaging waste in Turkey.
The organisation has released photos and videos as evidence to support its probe reports.
Greenpeace found that last year, the UK and Germany exported 210,000t and 136,000t of plastic waste respectively to Turkey.
A significant portion of the plastic waste that the two countries’ governments count as recycled is actually exported overseas.
Greenpeace also found plastic packaging waste from major supermarkets and brands in these two countries in Turkey’s Adana province.
These brands and supermarkets include M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, EDEKA, REWE, Henkel, Em-eukal, NRJ and Hella.
Greenpeace Mediterranean biodiversity project lead Nihan Temiz Ataş said: “As this new evidence shows, plastic waste coming from Europe to Turkey is an environmental threat, not an economic opportunity.
“Uncontrolled imports of plastic waste do nothing but increase the problems existing in Turkey’s own recycling system.
“Around 241 truckloads of plastic waste come to Turkey every day from across Europe and it overwhelms us. As far as we can see from the data and the field, we continue to be Europe’s largest plastic waste dump.”
Greenpeace UK political campaigner Sam Chetan-Walsh said: “The UK’s current approach to plastic waste exports is part of a history of environmental racism carried out through dumping toxic or hazardous pollutants.
“The impacts of plastic waste exports on human health and the environment are disproportionately felt by communities of colour. These communities have fewer political, economic and legal means to oppose toxic dumping, so companies can act with impunity.
“As long as the UK avoids properly managing and reducing its own waste, it will be upholding this structural inequality. The UK Government wouldn’t allow other countries’ waste to be dumped here, so why is it acceptable to make it another country’s problem?”
Turkey has seen a huge rise in plastic waste coming from the UK and other countries in Europe after China banned the export of plastic waste in 2017.
Last January, Malaysia returned 150 containers of plastic waste weighing around 3,737t to different exporting countries, including the US, the UK, France, Japan and Canada.