Europe’s dump yard and the system behind the international recycling business

Since China imposed a ban on plastic waste imports in 2017 other countries have taken its place. In recent years Turkey has become the biggest importer of plastic waste from Europe.

While claiming to recycle, Turkish companies have dumped unusable waste on roadsides and into rivers. Refugees and poor low-skilled workers are employed illegally to take the brunt of the hard labour and health risks connected to the recycling process. 

Germany has become one of the biggest exporters of plastic waste in Europe, while also functioning as an intermediary hub for plastic waste from other countries such as Norway. Part of it gets processed by Germany’s large recycling industry, while the hard to recycle parts get passed on to other countries or incinerated.  

An investigative cross-border team of journalists from Turkey, Germany and Norway sets out to follow plastic waste streams between their countries, reveals the system they follow and uncovers the environmental hazards and human rights violations connected to them. 

Photo credit: © Emre Caylak

Team members

Nicole Graaf

Nicole Graaf is a freelance journalist from Germany.

Elida Hoeg

Elida Høeg lives and works between Oslo and Barcelona.

Emre Caylak

Emre Caylak is a Turkish American photojournalist based in Istanbul.

€9.000 allocated on 31/07/2019

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