Plastic Waste Trade Watch
February 2022
This is the latest edition of the Plastic Waste Trade Watch, a monthly review of information from around the world on the international trade in plastic waste. It is produced by Basel Action Network's (BAN) Plastic Waste Transparency Project, which conducts campaigns, networking, research, and statistical analysis of the trade in plastic waste. The project publishes this newsletter summary each month and also maintains the Plastic Waste Transparency Hub website, which serves as an overall clearinghouse for News, Data, Campaigns, and Resources.

To join or sign up new members to the Plastic Waste Trade Watch, click here.
Photo of the Month
Tunisia - Containers filled with Italian waste are loaded onto a ship in the Tunisian port city of Sousse on February 19, 2022. Italy agreed last month to take back 213 containers loaded with household waste, which were illegally exported to Tunisia in the summer of 2020, and have been stuck in the port of Sousse ever since. © Anis Mili, AFP.
Trade Data Summary
Complete plastic waste export data from some government datasets for 2021 is not expected to be published until late March 2022. We will post comprehensive charts at that time.
The Basel Plastic Waste Amendments enacted on January 1, 2021, were designed to reduce the flows of dirty and mixed plastic wastes, in particular to developing countries. 

OECD countries continue to flood non-OECD countries with plastic waste.

Japan: In 2021, Japan exported a total of 623,200 tonnes of plastic waste, with 560,730 tonnes (90%) going to non-OECD countries: Malaysia (207,215 tonnes), Vietnam (158,611 tonnes), and Thailand (53,222 tonnes).

U.K.: In 2021, the U.K. exported a total of 466,739 tonnes of plastic waste, with 122,898 tonnes (26%) going to Turkey and 52,145 (11%) going to Poland. Exports to the Netherlands (which exports to Asia) increased to 101,035 tonnes (21%).

U.S.: In 2021, the U.S. exported a total of 557,067 tonnes of plastic waste, with 260,296 tonnes (47%) going to non-OECD countries: Malaysia (81,489 tonnes), India (42,419 tonnes), Vietnam (37,160 tonnes), and Indonesia (27,537 tonnes). The U.S. increased plastic waste exports to Latin America: Mexico (82,413 tonnes), El Salvador (13,437 tonnes), and Ecuador (6,097 tonnes)

Canada: In 2021, Canada exported a total of 170,286 tonnes of plastic waste, with 158,347 tonnes (93%) going to the U.S. Canada increased exports to Malaysia (4,070 tonnes). 
Data Charts of the Month
More detailed plastic waste trade information is available in the data section of the Hub
Basel Implementation News
Violations in plastic waste trade rampant one year after amendments

Full life-cycle controls vital
BAN released a Delegate Alert on February 25 to the Basel Convention Delegates. Many of these same country representatives will be attending the negotiating session at the UNEA 5.2 meeting in Nairobi, discussing the creation of a new global treaty on plastics, calling for action on minimizing the generation of plastics and plastic wastes. This alert examines the fact that the new Basel Amendments are largely being ignored by governments. Moreover, it calls for a life-cycle approach to eliminate plastic waste at source rather than simply seeking to control its trade.
Contamination Levels

The Basel Convention's 2019 Plastic Waste Amendments utilize the terms "almost free from contamination" as one criterion for whether the plastic waste shipment will be uncontrolled. This term has not been given an international quantitative value, leaving the Parties to define it on a national basis. The following are known levels adopted by certain countries to date. If readers know of other country interpretations, please let us know.
Quotation of the Month
“We want to take part in the fight against the scourge of plastic pollution in the oceans. Since I began my address, 80 tons of plastic have already been dumped into the world's seas. I want CMA CGM to stop carrying any plastic waste onboard its ships. This decision will prevent this waste from polluting marine ecosystems by being exported to places where the sorting or recycling process cannot be guaranteed.”
-- Chairman & CEO of CMA CGM Group, Rodolphe Saade, on the announcement that the world’s third-largest shipping line will no longer transport plastic scrap aboard its ships beginning June 1. CMA CGM shipped about 50,000 forty-foot containers of plastic waste per year globally and is the largest shipper of plastic waste from the United States.
Graphic of the Month
Video of the Month
Top Stories
Canada's "paper scrap" exports contaminated with plastic
Following news of Belgian inspectors discovering bales of mixed paper destined for India, which contained large amounts of plastic, Canadian journalists launched an investigation. They discovered that so-called "paper waste" was routinely contaminated with an estimated plastic content of 25%, while the legal rate in India is just 2%. The investigated wastes originated in Montreal, and the contamination rates reported to the city matched what was found in the bales. When investigators visited Indian importing facilities, they found easily recognized Canadian and Quebec plastic packaging and low-wage workers trying to remove the plastic by hand. Hard plastics are sent for recycling, but soft plastics were burned secretly at night as cheap fuel in other factories, polluting the air and causing breathing problems, asthma, skin diseases, and cancers.

U.K. supermarket waste harms environment, exports return
Toxic chemicals have been found at sites in Turkey with plastic waste imported from the U.K. has been dumped, including hazardous chemical pollutants and heavy metals. This follows the discovery last May numerous illegal dumpsites in Turkey that contained plastic packaging and bags from a number of U.K. supermarkets and retailers. More recently, it was revealed that a British waste firm, Eurokey Recycling, which has contracts with both Tesco and Sainsbury’s, had its accreditation as an exporter of packaging waste suspended in November 2021. This suspension happened after it came to light that the company had mislabeled and exported waste under the guise of a permitted plastic export. The shipments were sent to five sites in Turkey, Poland, and the Netherlands. The U.K. has been the culprit of numerous illegal plastic waste shipments in the past years, recently paying nearly one million GBP to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of waste illegally imported and dumped in Poland and taking back 263 containers of mixed waste from Sri Lanka, exported there in 2017, of which the final 45 containers left port in Colombo on February 21.
Brazilian company fined for illegal U.S. waste import
The Brazilian paper maker Jaepel Papéis e Embalagens has been fined R$44 million for importing 93 containers of waste cardboard, contaminated by mold, disposable plates, plastic bottles, used gloves and protective masks. 73 of the containers originated in the U.S., and the remaining 20 came from Honduras and the Dominican Republic. When the containers reached Brazil, agents found various types of plastic and potentially dangerous materials, and concluded that the bales contained residential waste, which cannot be considered recyclable paper and cardboard waste and does not require authorization prior to shipment. The company denies any wrongdoing and stated that the shipments were necessary due to interruptions in the supply of recyclable paper from commercial and industrial establishments and the decrease in the collection of recyclables during the pandemic. 
Key Campaign Updates
Illegal Italian waste finally returned from Tunisia
After an agreement was reached for Italy to take back 213 containers loaded with household waste, the waste was finally loaded back onto a ship and left the Tunisian port city of Sousse. These containers were then offloaded in Salerno, Italy, and are expected to spend the next six months near the rural village of Persano, an area that boasts a World Wildlife Fund-protected sanctuary. Consultations continue on the fate of another 69 containers remain in Tunisia, as they were moved from the port to a warehouse and later damaged in a fire, complicating their return. All of the containers were illegally exported to Tunisia in the summer of 2020 and have been stuck in the port of Sousse or moved to a warehouse ever since. When the containers were received in the port, Tunisian officials immediately discovered the waste and refused its entry to the country, as it is banned by Tunisian law and by the Bamako and Basel Conventions. 

Turkish recyclers exploit Syrian refugees
In addition to intentionally burning down recycling facilities to dispose of waste cheaply, as reported earlier, Turkish plastic recyclers in Adana have exposed Syrian refugees to toxic substances while they worked to sort plastic waste for around four euros a day. Workers complained of the work triggering asthma attacks and reported being instructed to drive unusable waste leftovers to the river to dump them there, as they could face dire consequences if this dumping was reported. Workers also reported being removed from the factory when German inspectors were expected. Waste from Germany and the U.K. has been found in dumps surrounding Adana, as Turkey continues to accept large amounts of plastic waste from the E.U., which in turn, fuels these nefarious worker abuses. 
Adana Bar Association: @AdanaBarosu - "Çukurova Will Not Be Europe's Garbage" action, led by our association and supported by our association, was carried out in Sarıçam district, behind the devout dumpster, where tons of foreign garbage was dumped.
Opinion of the Month
New Resources
-- The Big Beverage Playbook for Avoiding Responsibility – Report by Kirstie L. Pecci, Peter W. Blair, Kevin P. Budris
The Atlas of Plastic Waste
The Atlas of Plastic Waste is a collaboration between the Basel Action Network (BAN) and graduate students Matthew Gordon (Yale University) and Anna Papp (Columbia University). The project aims to harness human discoveries and inputs from satellite and computer technology to identify sites around the world where plastic waste ends up in the terrestrial environment. The goal is to raise awareness worldwide of the unsustainable characteristics of plastic and the large degree it has become an unwanted geographic feature of our collective landscape and Earth's biosphere.

We are soliciting submissions from each of you for the locations of plastic waste dumps to begin the creation of a global database of these sites. If you know of a major dump site (at least the equivalent volume of waste as a large city bus), please submit the information HERE.

We will use satellite data to view the user submitted dump locations this data will, in turn, refine the satellite’s algorithm to find more sites independently/automatically. The Atlas will ultimately contain data based on your submissions to our entry portal, as well as verified new locations discovered by satellite.

Help us create and build this Atlas by inputting known sites in your part of the world and likewise tell your friends to join in from their corners of the world. Together we can make this Atlas a comprehensive global snapshot and help the public and governments better understand the severity of the plastic malignancy on the Earth today.
Plastic Waste Transparency Project