NUIG study finds plastic recycling from Europe being dumped in Asian waters

Galway Bay fm newsroom – An NUI Galway study has revealed that large amounts of plastic recycling from Europe are being dumped in Asian waters.

New research from NUIG and the University of Limerick has for the first time quantified the volume of plastic from European countries that contributes to ocean littering from exported recycling.

According to the report, while European countries have developed world-leading waste management infrastructure, 46 percent of European separated plastic waste is exported outside the country of origin.

A large share of this plastic is transported thousands of kilometres to countries with poor waste management practices, largely located in Southeast Asia.

The study estimates that up to 31 percent of plastic exported for recycling is not recycled at all.

Meanwhile, it’s estimated between 1 to 7% of all exported European polyethylene ended up in Asian Waters.

Polyethylene is one of the most common types of plastic in Europe, and the results showed that countries such as the Slovenia, Italy and the UK are exporting a higher share of plastic outside of Europe.

The study, which was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, has been published in the scientific journal “Environment International.”