Germany shipped more than 700,000 tons of plastic waste to other countries in 2022. According to the UN Comtrade Database, no other country has eliminated as much plastic waste from the country. The Netherlands takes second place with around 684,000 tons – they were also the most important buyer country for German plastic waste in 2022. The previous plastic export world champion Japan comes to around 600,000 tons of waste, which is only enough for third place.
Türkiye accepts plastic waste from Germany
In addition to the Netherlands, Turkey has also established itself as an important destination country for German plastic waste. While 19,000 tons were exported there in 2017, in 2022 it was already more than 92,000 tons. Experts also assume that a significant part of the exports to the Netherlands is forwarded to Turkey, since the Netherlands acts as a transit country for shipping and has an important transshipment point for sea freight with the port of Rotterdam. From there, the waste is transported on to the destination countries. Eastern European countries such as Poland or the Czech Republic have gained in importance overall in recent years. However, exports there are subject to fluctuations.
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One reason for the large amount of German plastic waste exports is the expandable recycling in Germany. According to Eurostat, around 46 percent of all plastic packaging in Germany was recycled in 2020. This does not mean that the Federal Republic is in a particularly bad position in an EU comparison, but other countries have overtaken it and left it well behind in the last ten years. As the Statista infographic shows, Spain’s recycling rate was around 29 percent in 2010 – ten years later, more than half of the plastic packaging was recycled. Germany was only able to increase the admittedly comparatively high rate in 2010 by around 1.2 percentage points over the same period.
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