PRAGUE - Waste is illegally imported to the Czech Republic. Both the competent state authorities and representatives of NGOs agree that this is a serious and not well studied problem.

In general, there are several ways how to import illegal waste to another country, including forging documents or just crossing the border without any documentation at all. A clever way to transport illegal waste is to sell it as a product, which is what this investigation focused on.

There is a German company called Gemes, which deals with waste recycling and one of its products is compost. One of the products of this company is called GEM 5000. This was supposed to be a great material to use for recultivation, which means for example filling up old mines or closing of waste sited. However, there are several problems with the material. Even though it’s delivered with a certification, the real product doesn’t match the description, there are pieces of plastic, wood, rubber and other waste in it, which could potentially be harmful to the environment.

A Czech company, which got paid for taking thousands of tons of the product to their waste site is now under investigation by the Czech anti-organized crime police (NCOZ). A small-time entrepreneur who needed material to recultivate an old sand mine on his property, and allegedly bought the product, is being investigated by the Czech Inspection of Environment (CIZP) and may get a steep fine. There were several other cases when the customs officers stopped trucks with GEM 5000 heading to different Czech companies. This means that Gemes got rid of waste they didn’t have any use for by sending it to the Czech Republic under the pretence it’s a product for at least 3 years and even got paid for it.

German environmental authorities banned Gemes from selling the product and a state prosecutor now investigates the case. There is no way to know how much of this product got imported to the Czech Republic and where it was used – which means there is no way of knowing how much damage it can cause. 

Nominated 3 times for the German-Czech Journalism Award:

  1. "Kšefty se smetím: Česko jako přitažlivá skládka"
  2. "Auf Europas Abfallrouten. In drei Sekunden ist eine Ladung Müll verbrannt. Und mit ihr alle Beweise"
  3. Video: "Dreckige Deals mit deutschem Müll"

Click here for more info!

Team members

Michael Billig

Michael Billig is a freelance journalist from Leipzig (Germany). 

Michael Billig

Marius Münstermann

Marius Münstermann is a freelance journalist based in Germany. 

Zuzana Šotová

Zuzana Šotová is an investigative reporter from the Czech media investigace.cz

Zuzana Šotová


The website investigace.cz is operated by the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism, o.p.s.,which was founded in 2013 by its current director, Pavla Holcová.


Oliver Schröm

Oliver Schröm is an award-winning investigative journalist and bestselling author living in Hamburg, Germany.

Oliver Schröm
€36.900 granted on 17/05/2022




  • Auf Europas Abfallrouten. In drei Sekunden ist eine Ladung Müll verbrannt. Und mit ihr alle Beweise, Reportagen, 14/04/2023

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