The groups had learned that the ship COSCO PRIDE was to be loaded with 37 containers full of German plastic waste that were originally sent to Turkey but were now slated to be re-exported to Haiphong, Vietnam. It has now been confirmed that the containers have been blocked and will not be sailing to Asia. According to the Greek office of the COSCO company, the loading of the 37 containers in Piraeus has been stopped on request from Greek custom authorities following the warning letter.
As reported by the German magazine ‘Wirtschaftswoche’, the wastes were sent from Germany to Turkey last year but the importer lost its license to import waste to after the Turkish government begin to crack down on mixed and dirty plastic waste imports. The Turkish authorities tried to get the German government to take the waste back, but the German government refused Turkish requests to repatriate the waste. The Turkish government then rebooked the containers for export to third countries, most prominently to Vietnam. According to trusted insider information, the environmental groups learned of the containers and traced them to the port of Piraeus where they were awaiting imminent departure. They also learned that already 16 similarly rejected COSCO containers full of German plastic waste have made their way from Turkey to Haiphong, Vietnam via Piraeus earlier this year. The environmental groups claim the shipments are illegal based on the Waste Shipment Regulation (Article 22) and the Basel Convention (Article 8) rules that require exporting countries to repatriate and take responsibility for wastes they export when the shipment cannot be completed according to the contract. While applauding the action of Greek authorities and COSCO Shipping, all attention now turns to Germany.
“It is outrageous and unacceptable that German wastes can be diverted in this way when a direct export from Germany to Vietnam would be absolutely forbidden,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network. “Germany should never have allowed the export of these wastes to Turkey in the first place. Second, they should have absolutely taken them back once Turkey asked them to. We are calling on them to do so now.”
There are at least 80 more containers full of German plastic waste now believed to be sitting in Turkey from the COSCO, Sealand, MSC, Maersk and Hamburg Sud shipping lines.
“It is imperative that Germany take responsibility for the wastes they have been dumping in Turkey and now around the globe,” said Nihan Temiz Ataş of Greenpeace Mediterranean in Turkey. “If the EU is really serious as they have indicated recently in their Green New Deal, about not forcing the rest of the world to manage Europe’s waste problems, they must immediately take back all of the wastes they have recently shipped to Turkey and to Vietnam.”
Manfred Santen, chemical expert of Greenpeace Germany adds: “The future German government must vow to always manage its own waste through waste avoidance and clean, mechanical recycling — not by burning it or sneaking it off again to other countries. They must take back all of their waste from Turkey and not try to come up with rationalizations for not doing do immediately.”