- The European Commission estimates that the illegal handling of recycling and other wastes represents around 15-30% of the total EU waste trade, generating EUR 9.5 billion annually.
- Our team visits a facility in Poland that’s supposed to be handling U.K. recycling but finds it shuttered and infested with rats.
- We also speak with the ‘James Bond of waste trafficking’ who reveals that much recycling is being ‘laundered’ via the Netherlands and shipped on to countries where such resources are often dumped, not recycled.
- This is the final episode in Mongabay’s three-part, “true eco-crime” series, where investigative reporters trace England’s — and Europe’s — towering illegal waste problem.
We all send our recycling somewhere for proper handling, but the operation of one such handling center in Poland makes one ask, is it being done right, or at all?
The European Commission estimates that the illegal handling of such waste represents around 15-30% of the total EU waste trade, generating EUR 9.5 billion in annual revenues.
So in part 3 of our investigative podcast series, the team dispatches Outriders journalist Eva Dunal to visit one such recycling facility in the pretty town of Zielona Góra close to the Polish-German border, and finds out just how unpopular it is with the neighbors, and especially the city council. They also speak with Jim Puckett, the ‘James Bond of waste trafficking’ at Basel Action Network, who reveals that much recycling is being ‘laundered’ via the Netherlands and shipped on to countries where such resources are often dumped, not recycled.
This episode is called “The Wastelands,” and is the third and final installment of the podcast series, “Into the Wasteland,” developed with the support of Journalismfund.eu.
This “true eco-crime” series is produced by investigative environmental journalists Lucy Taylor and Dan Ashby, who trace the U.K.’s illegal “waste trail” from their quiet English town to the nearby countryside, and as far away as Poland and Malaysia.
In episode one, the pair meets an entrepreneur-turned-freelance waste crime investigator who survives a desperate flight across the British countryside from a gang of illegal waste-dumpers – and their dogs – when his late-night stakeout goes wrong, listen here:
In episode two, the team details how 20% of the U.K.’s waste is handled in this illegal manner, and how the government seems powerless to stop it: that’s one in five waste disposal companies operating like criminal enterprises.
“If one in five cafés were run by criminals, wouldn’t we know about that?” one of the investigators asks rhetorically. Listen here:
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Banner image: The shuttered Eurokey recycling plant in the town of Zielona Góra. Image by Eva Dunal/Outriders.
See episode one, here: