Dump with plastic waste: only a third of the waste in Germany is recycled or incinerated.
Photo: CHROMORANGE / Weingartner / imago images
Empty milk cartons, yoghurt pots and shopping bags from Germany continue on their world tour: the export of plastic waste from Germany has declined in recent years.
Germany remains the largest exporter of plastic waste in Europe, show new data from the Federal Statistical Office.
According to preliminary figures, a total of a million tonnes of plastic waste was exported to other countries in 2020.
That was eight percent less than the year before and a third less than ten years ago.
In 2010 just under 1.5 million tons of plastic waste were exported.
Most plastic waste was exported to Malaysia in 2020 at around 170,000 tonnes (17 percent).
The Netherlands followed in second place with almost 148,000 tons.
But the trip for the garbage is unlikely to have ended there, because the country is an important transshipment point for sea freight.
Most of the plastic waste imported into Germany last year also comes from the Netherlands - Germany imported around 481,000 tons in total.
Most German plastic waste has been going to Malaysia since 2018.
In previous years, the largest quantities had been exported to China, but since January 2018, 24 different recycling materials are no longer allowed to be exported to China, including unsorted plastic waste.
The exports of unsorted plastic waste in particular are criticized because of their impact on the environment.
"Against the background of plastic whirlpools in the oceans and the smallest parts of microplastics in nature, animals and humans, the handling of plastic waste is increasingly preoccupying the international community," explained the Federal Office.
In an EU comparison, Germany exported just under 1.1 million tons in 2019, by far the largest amount of plastic waste.
This is followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy.
For 2020, results are not yet available from all EU countries.
Only a third of the garbage is recycled or incinerated
Recycling is actually supposed to help conserve resources - but only a fraction of the garbage collected in Germany is intended for incineration and recovery, according to data from the Federal Office.
Accordingly, a total of 38 million tons of waste were collected from private households in 2019 - an average of 457 kilograms of household waste per capita.
Only a third of it is recycled or incinerated, according to the authority.
Icon: The mirror
mic / afp