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.

Europe’s Black Seas

Discharging oily wastewater has been outlawed globally for decades. But despite a sophisticated satellite monitoring system the practice is still common today – with potentially devastating effects for the environment


Recycling Lies

Delving into the plastic waste labyrinth to unveil how traders illegally ship Europe’s growing stockpile of plastic waste. And how it ends up in landfills and rivers far from the EU



The publications with our partner NRC in the Netherlands led to questions in parliament. State Secretary Van Veldhoven received queries such as: ‘Plastic waste: how a Dutch liquorice bag could end up in a Turkish roadside’ and ‘Dutch plastic illegally dumped in Turkey’. In answer, Veldhoven accepted the problematic nature of our findings and said that options were being examined to recycle more waste inside the EU.