Carefully separated waste often dumped abroad

17 April 2007

Carefully separated waste often dumped abroad

Half of transfrontier movements of waste are illegal and a significant proportion is damaging to human health and the environment. These are the conclusions drawn by SP Member of Parliament Remi Poppe and Euro-MP Kartika Liotard from an extensive investigation into the export of waste. “In the Netherlands we separate our waste and pay charges on the most damaging waste to ensure that it doesn't end up in the environment," says Poppe. "It's then up to waste companies not to dump it abroad or have it processed under extremely poor conditions.” The findings of the SP investigation were today passed on to Minister for the Environment Jacqueline Cramer.

Export of waste to low-cost processors abroad who have little regard for the environment means that even carefully separated waste products can cause serious damage to human health and the environment in the countries where such firms are located. This is the main conclusion of the investigation by Remi Poppe and Kartika Liotard, published in a richly illustrated report entitled ‘Afval heeft toekomst’ ('Waste has a future').

Remi Poppe“Waste has become an item of international trade," Poppe explains. "Due to an increasing lack of transparency and poorly monitored transport the fine goals of European legislation are no nearer to being achieved, but in fact are moving further away. Car batteries are dumped just the other side of the French border, and the battery acid simply allowed to leak away. Then the lead from these batteries is smelted in open ovens from which gas escapes into the immediate environment. In the vicinity of the factory soil and water are badly polluted and the grass can no longer be used as cattle feed. For the neighbourhood children lead poisoning from our batteries is causing serious learning difficulties."

Things could be done differently without making the business unprofitable, the SP argues. EU member states should be obliged to process their own waste as far as is possible on their own territory. If the export of surplus waste cannot be avoided, the exporting country must retain responsibility for environmental health and working conditions wherever the stuff is processed.

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