The Waste newsroom tracks the exports of European plastics, from the consumer to the trader and the recycler abroad. In recent years many EU countries have raised awareness of the harmful effects of excessive use of plastics, spurring much higher rates of recycling. The opaque trade in plastics wastes risks undermining this progress with bad faith practices that escape public attention.
The diversification of waste export was triggered by China’s decision to stop importing waste, forcing Europe to find another destination for its increasing stockpile of recyclable plastic waste. Lighthouse has built a cross-border team to investigate the impact of these waste exports.
The newsroom gives journalists from different countries the capacity to uncover where plastic waste ends up, who profits and who is responsible. We analyse the complex supply chain and triangulate the results with information scraped from public sources, social media, ship tracking databases, satellite imagery and sources on the ground.