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Import of waste to Poland. Which countries were the most imported from?

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Waste requiring special permits was imported to Poland not only from Germany. In recent years, the European countries from which such imports were the highest include Great Britain, Sweden and Denmark.

The Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection announced on August 31 that seven tons of waste illegally imported into Poland from Germany were returned to the country of origin. Let us recall that on July 26, the Minister of Climate and Environment, Anna Moskwa, announced that Poland had filed a complaint with the European Commission against Germany for waste illegally imported from this country. The resort indicated the exact location and quantity. Germany has until September 7 to respond to this matter.

A public discussion about the import of waste to Poland sparked after the fire at the landfill in Przylep (part of Zielona Góra), which occurred on July 22. In addition to identifying those responsible for the negligence that led to this particular disaster, the topic of importing waste from abroad into our country – legally and illegally – was raised. Law and Justice presented a narrative that, with PO’s consent, “millions of tons of German garbage poured into Poland.” At a rally in Stawiska on July 23, Jarosław Kaczyński said that “these garbage dumps in western Poland are the result of their (Civic Platform – ed.) rule.” “There are a lot of these types of garbage dumps there, this is German garbage. This is the transport of German garbage and this is what Poland will look like if they come to power,” he added.

The message that with the PO’s consent “German garbage poured in in millions of tons”, we verified in Konkret24 based on data from the Central Statistical Office: we have shown that since the United Right has been in power, waste imported from Germany with permission has been increasing year by year – in tonnes, it is more than twice as much as before 2016. In addition, we asked the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection for data from which countries the most waste came to Poland in 2008-2022.

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READ ON CONKRET24: “Millions of tons of German garbage” in PO times? During the PiS government, more of them arrived

The answer received on August 29 shows that every year, among the five countries from which waste enters us legally, Germany has dominated in recent years – but this was not the case before, and in addition to our western neighbor, large suppliers of such waste were, for example, the Czech Republic, Slovakia , and in recent years Sweden and Denmark. However, it should be remembered that the data published here only concerns legal imports, i.e. waste imported with the permission of the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection. And – which is reflected in the statistics – in 2013, the law was changed so that not all imported waste requires this permit, so the statistics no longer show it.

Years 2008-2012: most waste came from the Czech Republic

The Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection provided Konkret24 with information on how much total waste (in tonnes) came to Poland in particular years from 2008 to 2022 and how many tonnes of waste came to us legally from 12 European countries in these years. On this basis, we calculated the percentage share of each country in total waste imports to Poland and listed the five countries from which the most was imported in the analyzed years.

And so: in the years 2008-2012, most waste came from the Czech Republic – a total of 1.9 million tons. Depending on the year, they constituted from 24 to 44 percent. all brought in. Most waste From czech imported in 2009 – 500,071 tons, which was 44.77 percent total imports. In those years, with permission, large amounts of waste were sent to Poland from Slovakia – in 2008-2010, imports from this country constituted 15-17 percent general; and in 2011, a lot was imported from the Netherlands – 563,044 tons, which was 35.15 percent all imports. During this period from Germany a total of 1.5 million tons of waste was imported to Poland; most in 2008 – then it was 41.24 percent all imports.

After changing the regulations, 2013-2022: Germany dominates

However, as we mention above, the years 2008-2012 should not be compared with subsequent years, because it is no longer possible to compare the same type of imported raw material. As of January 1, 2013, the regulations regarding the import of waste have changed: those from the so-called green list (non-hazardous, e.g. metal scrap, waste paper, plastic waste, broken glass, etc.) no longer require written permission from the competent authorities; import to Poland takes place on the same terms as in the entire European Union. The CIEP data from 2013 no longer include this waste, which does not mean that it is no longer imported to Poland – its import is simply no longer subject to the supervision of the CIEP.

At the end of the PO-PSL coalition government – i.e. in 2013, 2014, 2015 – the most waste that still required permission from the relevant authorities came from Germany, which accounted for 38.95% of the total legal import, respectively: (105,944 tons); 39.11 percent (142,891 tons); 35.34 percent (153,820 tons).

In the following years top 5 countriesfrom which the most waste was legally imported, these were (share in total imports in brackets):

year 2016:
Germany – 80,674 tons (31.52%) Sweden – 55,522 tons (21.69%) Italy – 23,594 tons (9.22%) Austria – 23,465 tons (9.17%) Great Britain – 21,145 tons (8.26%)

year 2017:
Germany – 145,593 tons (38.45%) Great Britain – 56,459 tons (14.87%) Sweden – 55,522 tons (14.63%) Italy – 24,310 tons (6.40%) Slovenia – 13,268 tons (3.50%)

year 2018:
Germany – 247,680 tons (57.36%) Great Britain – 36,429 tons (8.44%) Sweden – 30,400 tons (7.04%) Italy – 21,971 tons (5.09%) Austria – 19,545 tons (4.53%)

year 2019:
Germany – 274,623 tons (67.81%) Denmark – 28,340 tons (7%) Italy – 23,578 tons (5.82%) Austria – 21,811 tons (5.39%) Slovenia -12,110 tons (2.99%)

year 2020:
Germany – 296,470 tons (74.30%) Denmark – 28,340 tons (7.10%) Austria – 20,017 tons (5.02%) Slovenia – 10,823 tons (2.71%) Netherlands – 8,789 tons (2.20%)

year 2021:
Germany – 236,965 tons (67.48%) Denmark – 36,408 tons (10.37%) Austria – 17,285 tons (4.92%) Slovenia – 13,774 tons (3.92%) Netherlands – 12,279 tons (3.50%)

year 2022:
Germany – 231,173 tons (69.54%) Denmark – 44,577 tons (13.41%) Slovenia – 10,672 tons (3.21%) Austria – 9,052 tons (2.72%) Sweden – 5,210 tons (1.57%).

As you can see, in the first years of the United Right government, waste imports from Germany remained at a similar level as in the last years of the PO-PSL government. The growth started in 2018 – then imports from Germany accounted for it 57.36 percent total legal import, and in the following years the share exceeded 60 percent. The other countries from which the most waste has been imported in recent years are Great Britain, Sweden and Denmark.

The Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection points out that raw materials, e.g. for zinc recovery, come to Poland on the basis of permits, which helps reduce extraction from non-renewable sources. A large share of the imported waste is made up of used lead-acid batteries, from which lead is recovered. In turn, used oils are regenerated and reused.

In Poland, approximately 120 million tons of waste are generated annually. The weight of waste imported in 2022 amounted to 333 thousand. tons and it was only 0.3 percent. weight of waste generated in the country.

Main photo source: TVN24



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