Europe’s waste goes to other countries – level 3

07-06-2024 07:00

Every year, Europe exports millions of tonnes of waste to developing countries; however, a significant portion of these shipments are illegal.

This illegal trade can damage local environments and involve criminal organizations that make profits. The European Union is working to reduce waste exports and improve recycling within Europe. One notable case involved 300 containers of waste shipped from Italy to Tunisia in 2020, which were eventually sent back due to activists’ efforts.

New EU rules now require non-OECD countries to prove they can manage waste properly and ban plastic waste exports outside the EU. Italian customs officers use a new alert system to catch illegal waste shipments. Recycled materials, like copper from electronic cables, are now being processed within Europe to support the circular economy. Despite these efforts, less than 12% of materials consumed in the EU are recycled. More policies and incentives are needed to improve this.

Difficult words: notable (worthy of attention or notice), circular economy (a system where material never becomes waste and nature is regenerated), incentive (money that encourages a person or organization to do something).

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What measures has the European Union implemented to reduce waste exports and improve recycling, and what was a notable case of illegal waste shipment in 2020?


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