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Turkey was main destination for EU’s waste exports in 2021: Eurostat

A man collects items from an illegal dump on November 29, 2020 in Adana, southern Turkey. It is supposed to be recycled but instead plastic packaging from popular British supermarkets like Sainsbury's and French frozen food retailer Picard is ending up being dumped illegally in the Turkish countryside. There are at least 10 known sites in southern Turkey where European plastics have been dumped illegally. Yasin AKGUL / AFP

Turkey was the main destination for waste exported from the EU, with a volume of around 14.7 million tonnes in 2021, which is more than three times as much as in 2004 and almost half of the total exports of EU waste, according to the latest data from Eurostat.

Eurostat on Wednesday said that exports of waste from the EU to non-EU countries reached 33 million tonnes last year, an increase of 77 percent since 2004, with 14.7 million tonnes having been exported to Turkey.

Imports of waste from non-EU countries increased by 11 percent since 2004, amounting to 19.7 million tonnes in 2021, the statistical office also said.

The data also showed India, which received almost 2.4 million tonnes of waste from the EU in 2021, as the second-largest destination, followed by Egypt (1.9 Million tonnes), Switzerland (1.7 million tonnes), United Kingdom (1.5 million tonnes), Norway (1.4 million tonnes), Pakistan (1.3 million tonnes), Indonesia (1.1 million tonnes), United States (0.9 million tonnes) and Morocco (0.6 million tonnes).

While Pakistan has markedly grown as a destination for EU waste, with volumes increasing from 0.1 million tonnes in 2004 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2021, the EU exports of waste to China have fallen from a peak of 10.1 million tonnes in 2009 to 0.4 million tonnes in 2021, the statistics further revealed.

In 2021, exports of ferrous metals waste — iron and steel — amounted to 19.5 million tonnes, accounting for more than half of all waste exports from the EU, including 13.1 million tonnes received by Turkey, which corresponds to 67 percent of all ferrous metal waste exported from the EU.

Considerable amounts of paper waste were also exported from the EU last year, Eurostat said, adding that 4.4 million tonnes exported accounted for 13 percent of the EU’s waste exports in 2021, with India being the major destination of paper waste, receiving 1.2 million tonnes, followed by Indonesia (0.9 million tonnes) and Turkey (0.4 million tonnes).

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