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In 2021, the Netherlands was the EU's largest exporter of plastic waste, mainly to countries in Southeast Asia. This is apparent from research by the Plastic Soup Foundation. Only Japan and the US exported even more plastic waste to these countries in 2021. Per capita, the Netherlands is even the world leader.
Editorial office

Since China’s ban on importing plastic waste in 2018, this trade has shifted to vulnerable countries that do not have the right infrastructure to process it properly. Of the total export of Dutch plastic waste of over 200 million kilos, almost 70 million kilos went to Indonesia and almost 64 million to Vietnam. This figure has even doubled since 2020.

In Southeast Asia, most plastic waste is landfilled in the open and incinerated in an uncontrolled way. This releases harmful substances, plastic residues and microplastics that pollute fields and surface waters and affect the environment and the health of local people.

The Plastic Soup Foundation believes that the export of plastic waste to countries outside the EU should be completely restricted. The Netherlands in particular, as the largest transit port for plastic waste, should take responsibility.

Chemical recycling

On its website, the foundation says that processing plastic waste can be a solution to this problem. Chemical recycling can even make plastic waste a valuable circular raw material for the chemical industry.

On 15 September, Circular Biobased Delta is organising an international event on this topic: NRW-Dutch cross-border opportunities in Chemical Recycling for North Rhine Westphalia and the Netherlands. See the agenda for more information.

Image: Tinnakorn jorruang/Shutterstock