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Millions of tons of illegal scrap are traded internationally.

Press release March 11, 2019

The 'Buying and throwing away-society' has a waste problem that has created a shady industry for illegal scrap trade.

Plastic waste illegal dumping
Plastic bottles ending up in sea due to illegally dumping of waste.

Waste management is a difficult problem in particularly Asia and Africa, with many tons of waste being shipped from rich countries in the West. Especially China has huge dumps filled with electronic waste but has taken responsible steps to minimize waste by banning imports of certain types of waste.

Interpol has found 1.5 million tonnes of illegally traded waste worldwide. This happened in a major international action against the illegal trade in waste.

The trade in waste is organised, according to Interpol. Typically, waste is transported from countries in North America and Europe to Asia and Africa.

Illegal waste pollutes

Most of the illegal waste that Interpol found is metal and electronic waste - especially from cars.

When illegal waste is traded, it often ends up in countries where the same rules or controls are not in place. This is problematic because it can both harm the environment and human health.

If wires are burnt for metals, typically dioxins will be released. Dioxins are a group of potentially very carcinogenic substances and during combustion, they can be released to the atmosphere or inhaled by the people who burn the wires.

If the waste ends up in landfills then environmentally harmful substances may be released into the soil and, for example, pollute groundwater.

Electronic waste can be separated and recycled from the waste stream but but if it just ends up in a landfill, then we are faced with an environmental problem and resources are wasted.

In addition, landfill sites can form climate gases that are sent into the atmosphere. All these problems are dealt with in Europe, because there are rules on the treatment of waste.

One such company, dealing responsibly with electronic waste or e-waste, is NamiGreen in Africa. The company's founder, Mr. Per Hansen, explains "that companies from the West can readily supply electronic waste (e-waste) to Africa if responsible management is there", and continues "at NamiGreen we have obtained all relevant certifications and our e-waste facility is approved by the government for electronic waste recycling".

China: responsible action against waste

In China, they now have such a challenge with waste that the government is trying to limit the amount of waste. China is taken responsible action against plastic waste. Therefore, in a memorandum, China has informed the WTO that they will no longer import 24 types of waste by the end of 2017. including tires, textiles, plastics, chemicals and old medicine.

The import ban takes place as part of an effort by the Government of China against poor management and recycling of waste resulting in pollution.

The ban can be interpreted as a possible response to the documentary "Plastic China", which provides an insight into the process of recycling plastic in the provinces of China. The documentary received a lot of attention in China before it was later removed from China's internet.

### Factbox

Illegal waste

  • In 2010, 275 million tonnes of plastic waste were produced, with up to 12.7 million tonnes illegally dumped in the oceans.
  • In 2014, only 10-40 percent of 42 million tonnes of electronic waste were abolished correctly.
  • When hazardous waste is not treated properly, it pollutes both water, soil and air.
  • Source: Interpol



E-waste Electronic waste Illegal dumping Waste Waste recycling Plastic Plastic waste Plastics China Africa Illegal waste trade Dioxin Recycling Recycle Computer Equipment Recycle my laptop NamiGreen Namibia Hazardous waste

Plastic waste illegal dumping
Plastic bottles ending up in sea due to illegally dumping of waste.
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