Category: Environmental Rights

waste
BlogEnvironmental Rights

Europe’s Waste Export Dilemma: Environmental Burdens and Global Implications

 

The surge in waste export from Europe to Turkey, poses serious environmental and ethical dilemmas, necessitating robust international environmental policies. The issue of waste exportation, mainly from European nations to countries like Turkey, presents a pressing environmental and ethical challenge. With China’s decision in 2018 to ban the import of plastic waste, Turkey has become a significant destination for European waste. This shift underscores the global dynamics of waste management as nations grapple with waste surpluses and the complexities of international waste disposal practices.

Historically, China was the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials until its ban, which redirected much of Europe’s waste to other countries, including Turkey and Malaysia. This policy change addressed domestic pollution issues and encouraged China’s waste recycling industries. The ban has had ripple effects across the globe, compelling other nations to rethink their waste management strategies and develop more sustainable practices[1].

In recent years, incidents such as the illegal export of 220 tonnes of waste from the UK to Turkey, which included banned materials like soiled nappies, have highlighted systemic issues in waste management and compliance with international laws[2]. This particular case from 2019 resulted in fines and mandated improvements in waste sorting at UK facilities. However, these actions underscore a broader problem of inadequate oversight and enforcement of waste export regulations. A 2020 Greenpeace report revealed that much of the UK’s plastic waste exported to Turkey was either dumped or burned illegally, posing severe health hazards and environmental pollution [2]. The UK exported significant plastic waste to Turkey in 2023, demonstrating the ongoing dependency on foreign waste management facilities [3].

According to a report in Envirotech Magazine, there has been a significant increase in the amount of UK plastic waste exported for recycling, with over 600,000 tonnes shipped in 2023 alone. More than 25% of this waste was sent to Turkey, highlighting a growing reliance on foreign nations, including non-OECD countries, to manage the UK’s plastic waste. The export of waste has surged by over 500% in the last three years, raising concerns about the environmental impact and the effectiveness of recycling systems in recipient countries [3].

The EU has taken steps to address these challenges through revised waste export rules under the European Green Deal, demonstrating a commitment to reduce waste generation and prevent the shipment of plastic waste to non-OECD countries. Despite these regulations, Turkey, as an OECD country, remains a significant destination for EU waste. This situation presents an opportunity for significant change, raising concerns regarding Turkey’s recycling capacities and the environmental health impacts on its local communities.

Reports from various organisations have illuminated the dire consequences of the current practices. In Turkey, poorly managed waste sites, where much of Europe’s plastic waste ends up, have become environmental hazards. These sites often lack proper controls, leading to widespread pollution and severe health risks for local populations. Activists have used the term “waste colonialism” to describe this dynamic, where developed nations exploit less wealthy countries as dumping grounds for their waste [4]

The magnitude of waste exports to Turkey is significant: in 2021, Turkey imported 14.7 million tonnes of solid waste from EU countries, a threefold increase since 2004, with plastics making up a considerable portion[5]. This statistic highlights Turkey’s role as Europe’s primary waste hub and underscores the urgent need for improved waste management and regulatory practices within Turkey to handle such volumes effectively [6] [7].

This situation necessitates a critical re-evaluation of international waste management policies. Countries involved in waste exports must enforce stricter regulations and improve transparency. Additionally, enhancing recycling technologies and capacities within exporting countries can reduce the need to ship waste abroad, thus mitigating environmental and ethical issues.

The environmental repercussions of waste export are profound, disrupting ecosystems and contravening ethical waste management principles. Strengthening international cooperation and establishing stringent environmental safeguards are essential to ensuring sustainability and justice in waste management.

BY ZEYNEP VEISOGLU

Sources:

[1]          https://politeknik.org.tr/turkiye-nasil-avrupanin-cop-merkezi-oldu/

[2]          https://certified-sustainable.co.uk/why-is-the-uks-plastic-waste-being-dumped-in-turkey/

[3]          https://envirotecmagazine.com/2024/01/24/growth-in-plastic-packaging-recycling-being-shipped-abroad-including-non-oecd-countries/

[4]          https://www.gov.uk/government/news/soiled-nappies-among-banned-waste-exported-to-turkey

[5]          https://tr.euronews.com/2022/05/25/ab-ulkelerinin-turkiye-ye-gonderdigi-cop-uc-kat-artarak-14-7-milyon-tona-ulast

[6]          https://www.politico.eu/article/the-turkey-shaped-hole-in-the-eus-new-waste-export-regime/

[7]          https://www.equaltimes.org/turkey-europe-s-rubbish-dump

 

Lebanon Israel Palestinians
BlogEnvironmental RightsExecutive Committee

The effects of the weapons used in Gaza

White phosphorus: A destructive chemical weapon, harming beyond the battlefield. Pollutes air, soil, water, harming life and violating international law. White phosphorus is a chemical weapon [1] of war and is designed to inflict harm and destruction. Unfortunately, its impact goes beyond the immediate targets on the battlefield. When white phosphorus is deployed, it releases toxic substances into the air, soil, and water, leaving behind a trail of environmental destruction. [2]

One of the most alarming consequences is the contamination of soil. White phosphorus can persist in the ground, making it infertile and unsuitable for agriculture. This not only affects the livelihoods of those in conflict zones but also has long-term consequences for the ecosystems that support diverse forms of life.

Furthermore, when white phosphorus comes into contact with water sources, it leads to water pollution. The release of this chemical weapon can contaminate rivers and lakes, harming aquatic life and disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems. The long-lasting environmental damage caused by white phosphorus affects not only the current generation but poses challenges for future generations as well.

According to The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [3] its prohibited to use incendiary weapons like white phosphorus against civilians. Unfortunately, it has been used against civilian in the Gaza Strip on 10th of October of 2023. We, as responsible global citizens, should condemn the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war.

Another huge hazard is the release of asbestos in war inflicted areas. Asbestos is relatively safe when trapped in cement in building however poses a hazard when the building is destroyed such as demolition of buildings in Gaza. The consequences are alarming, as millions of tons of highly hazardous, asbestos-contaminated rubble are left in the wake of such destruction, presenting a long-term health threat. According to WHO expose leads to breathing difficulties and lung cancer.[4] Not only does it harm humans but animals too. Cats, dogs, and other animals can develop asbestos related illness where treatment option is limited and survival is low. [5]

Shortly, the devastating impact of white phosphorus extends far beyond the conflict area, leaving an lasting mark on both the environment and human lives. Additionally, the release of asbestos in conflict areas, poses an ongoing health threat for both humans and animals.

BY AYNUR BALKAS

 

References
[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/white-phosphorus
[2] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts103.pdf
[4] https://geneva-s3.unoda.org/static-unoda-site/pages/templates/the-convention-on-certain-conventional-weapons/PROTOCOL%2BIII.pdf
[4] https://www.preventionweb.net/blog/rebuilding-ukraine-imminent-risks-asbestos
[5] https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/107335/9789289013581-eng.pdf?sequence=1

taking-action-protect-biodiversity
Environmental RightsNext EventsProjects

We are taking action to protect biodiversity

We acknowledge the intrinsic link between biodiversity and human rights. Biodiversity encompasses the vast array of ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity that exist on Earth. It provides essential resources for human survival, such as food, medicine, and clean air and water. Protecting biodiversity is therefore not only an environmental imperative but also a matter of ensuring the rights and well-being of present and future generations.

As Chairs of Human Rights Solidarity, Berk Batin, a first-year psychology student at Kings College London, and Burak Batuhan Karakus, a second-year law student at City, University of London, we are honoured to spearhead a project with a dedicated team of passionate individuals. Together, we are committed to upholding human rights and working towards making a lasting impact in our society.

Recognizing the interconnectedness of human rights and biodiversity, we strive to be the water that nourishes the sapling of human rights while fostering the preservation and sustainable management of biodiversity. By advocating for justice, equality, and dignity, we aim to create a world where the rights of all individuals are respected, protected, and harmoniously coexist with the natural world.

You can read the full details of the project and the programme in the section below:

 

Publish

akpm
Council to EuropeEnvironmental RightsReports

Our amendment proposals to PACE on the Political strategies in natural disasters

 

We have made our amendment proposals on “Political strategies to prevent, prepare for, and face the consequences of natural disasters.”

We are delighted to announce our proposed amendments to the draft report on the Political strategies to prevent, prepare for, and face the consequences of natural disasters. We hope to make contribution to the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe which is dedicated to upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

 

hrs-world-environment-day-2021
Environmental RightsEventsYoutube

World Environment Day 2021

DATE: 21 June 2021

PLACE: YouTube

COMMITTEE: Environmental Rights Committee

Originally planned for 5 June, the World Environment Day, this YouTube broadcast had to be delayed to 21 June due to technical issues. Despite late, we had an amazing YouTube live event with scientist Tierra Curry and climate activist Rob Callender to celebrate World Environment Day and once again reminded each other of the importance of our environment and treating it well. The particular theme of this broadcast was what the youth could do to spread awareness on  the current climate crisis.

The program can be watched at our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGpqWxy1mnE&t=11s

restore-our-earth-live-event-oceans-featured
Environmental RightsEvents

Restore Our Earth 2021

DATE: 22 April 2021

PLACE: YouTube

COMMITTEE: Environmental Rights Committee

EARTHDAY.ORG’s theme for Earth Day 2021 was Restore Our Earth, a theme focusing on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. With the awarenesss that we all need a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health & survival, and happiness, our Environmental Rights Committee hosted a live YouTube event to raise awareness that a healthy planet is not an option — it is a necessity.

Our guest speakers were:

  • Line Niedeggen, Climate Justice Activist at Fridays For Future Germany
  • Hayley Pinto, Speaker at Greenpeace UK

The event can be watched at our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psQ-t-cmJMs

world-day-to-combat-hrs-nomhle-senene-jerome-foster
Environmental RightsEventsInstagram

World Day to Combat Desertification 2021

DATE: 7 April 2021

PLACE: Instagram

COMMITTEE: Environmental Rights 

Humans have altered nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land to meet an ever-increasing demand for food, raw materials, highways, and homes. Avoiding, slowing, and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems is urgent and critical for a rapid recovery from the pandemic and ensuring the long-term survival of people and the planet.

Over the next decade, current commitments from over 100 countries call for the restoration of nearly 1 billion hectares of land – an area nearly the size of China. If we restore this land, we will be able to provide enormous benefits to both people and the environment.

Environmental Rights Committee organised an Instagram Live event on the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification and had  Nomhle  Senene, a 13-year-old climate and social justice activist, and Jerome Foster II, an 18-year-old activist who is an Environmental Justice Council Member at the White House.

neighbourhoud-clean-up-day-hrs-title-photo
Environmental RightsEvents

Neighbourhood Clean Up Day

DATE: 4 April 2021

PLACE: Parks and streets

COMMITTEE: Environmental Rights Committee

The Neighbourhood Cleanup Day is part of the Restore Our Earth campaign run within the framework of the Earth Day 2021.  With this project we aimed to show that the solution to the global environmental crisis starts by taking small and localised actions that have an impact on the environment. Our small step was plogging; a new trend where picking up trash is combined with jogging.

We wanted to illustrate that individuals do not have to be environmentalists, activists or experts to make a difference for the future of our planet. We asked our volunteers to clean their streets, beaches, rivers, forests, parks and neighbourhoods.

wild-life-celebration-elephant
Environmental RightsEventsYoutube

World Wildlife Day

DATE: 3 March 2021

PLACE: YouTube

COMMITTEE: Environmental Rights Committee

World Wildlife Day is celebrated annually on the 3rd of March in support of animals and plants across the world. The event was proposed by Thailand and was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly during its 68th meeting in 2013.

On the occasion of the World Wildlife Day, we celebrated forms of wild fauna and flora and tried to raise awareness on the benefits of their conservation. At the same time, we discussed the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime and human-induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.

We invited various guest speakers from different backgrounds sharing the same interest in our ecosystem and biodiversity.

Our guest speakers were:

  • Tierra Curry, Senior Scientist at Center for Biological Diversity
  • Finlay Pringle, Environmental campaigner at Ullapool Shark Ambassador
  • Erik Solheim, The Sixth UN Environment Executive Director and Undersecretary General of the United Nations
  • Marjan Verschragen, An ambassador at eXXpedition artist and environmental technician

The program can be watched here: 

Erik Solheim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCUEK6KnBKA&t=2s

Finlay Pringle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lbaqXBleJ0&t=74s

Tierra Curry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBaabPj3XZY