Where does Europe’s rubbish go?

Which countries take Euro waste?

Stock images of London. Credit: viewgene/Shutterstock.com

The European Union is responsible for producing over 2.1 billion tonnes of waste annually, as per the European Parliament’s findings, but where does it end up?

Surprisingly, a significant chunk of European waste, specifically 33 million tonnes in 2021, found its way to shores beyond the EU—a staggering 77 per cent increase since 2004. A notable 59 per cent of this exported waste consisted of iron and steel.

A global journey for Europe’s waste

  • At the bottom of the list, Morocco accepted 0.6 million tonnes of EU waste in 2021, according to Eurostat. This positions Morocco as the tenth most significant recipient.
  • The United States, (yes you read it correctly) surprisingly, comes in ninth, taking in 0.9 million tonnes of waste from Europe.
  • Indonesia receives eighth place, with 1.1 million tonnes making its way there.
  • Ranking seventh, Pakistan took in 1.3 million tonnes of European waste in 2021.
  • Norway, not an EU member but geographically close, received 1.4 million tonnes, placing it sixth.
  • The United Kingdom, formerly an EU member, now finds itself receiving 1.5 million tonnes of waste, ranking fifth.
  • Switzerland is fourth with 1.7 million tonnes of EU waste.
  • Egypt stands on the podium in third place, having received 1.9 million tonnes of waste.
  • India comes in second, with a considerable 2.4 million tonnes of waste from the EU.
  • Leading the pack at number one is Turkey which received an astounding 14.7 million tonnes, with a vast majority being ferrous metals like iron and steel, showing an almost sevenfold increase over the second place.

Environmental Considerations

This distribution highlights the complex global network of waste management, shedding light on the environmental and economic dynamics of waste exportation.

As countries around the world grapple with the implications of receiving waste from abroad, the focus shifts towards innovation in recycling and reusability, ensuring a greener future for planet Earth.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.