How waste from some supermarkets ends up illegally dumped in Turkey

Turkish blight: How waste from some of our biggest supermarket chains ends up illegally dumped by the side of roads abroad

  • Plastic from British supermarkets has allegedly been illegally dumped and burned on Turkish roadsides
  • Waste from major chains including Tesco, Aldi and M&S is among rubbish across Turkey’s Adana province  
  • It is illegal to export plastic waste from the UK unless it is intended to be recycled or sent to energy plant
  • But Greenpeace found used crisp packets and sweet wrappers among the items being shredded and burnt

Plastic from British supermarkets is being illegally dumped and burned on Turkish roadsides, it has been claimed.

Waste from major chains including Tesco, Aldi and M&S is among rubbish strewn across Turkey’s Adana province, according to an investigation by Greenpeace.

The UK exports more than 500,000 tons of plastic waste every year – enough to fill two-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools.

Almost half of this ends up in Turkey – and is almost impossible to recycle. As such, it is often burnt and left in fields or dumped along the roadside.

Plastic from British supermarkets is being illegally dumped and burned on Turkish roadsides (pictured: rubbish in the Adana province), it has been claimed

Waste from major chains including Tesco (pictured), Aldi and M&S is among rubbish strewn across Turkey’s Adana province, according to an investigation by Greenpeace

There is no suggestion the waste comes directly from supermarkets and is much more likely to be household waste which has made its way abroad. Pictured: M&S Irish unsmoked back bacon packet found by investigators


Almost half of the UK’s exported plastic waste ends up in Turkey (left and right) – and is almost impossible to recycle. As such, it is often burnt and left in fields or dumped along the roadside

It is illegal to export plastic waste from the UK unless it is intended to be recycled or sent to an energy plant. Pictured: Plastic waste that is dumped and burned in Adana province in Turkey

A team of investigators found plastic packaging from UK, German and global food and drinks brands and supermarkets. Pictured: Sainsbury’s little ones plastic packaging

Greenpeace found used fizzy drink cans, crisp packets and sweet wrappers among items being shredded and burnt in Adana province in Turkey rather than recycled

The UK exports more than 500,000 tons of plastic waste every year – enough to fill two-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools

It is illegal to export plastic waste from the UK unless it is intended to be recycled or sent to an energy plant. 

But Greenpeace found used fizzy drink cans, crisp packets and sweet wrappers among items being shredded and burnt rather than recycled. 

There is no suggestion the waste comes directly from supermarkets and is much more likely to be household waste which has made its way abroad.

The amount of plastic taken by Turkey has skyrocketed since China announced in 2017 that it would no longer accept British waste. 

The amount of plastic taken by Turkey has skyrocketed since China announced in 2017 that it would no longer accept British waste. Pictured: Covid rapid antigen test packet found among the plastic waste

In just four years, Turkey went from taking 12,000 tons to 210,000 tons. Pictured: Plastic waste dumped and burned in Adana province in Turkey

Greenpeace investigators claimed that there was plastic packaging (pictured) from UK, German and global food and drinks brands and supermarket found in the Adana province in Turkey

Sainsbury’s sultana packet was found amid piles of plastic waste by Greenpeace investigators. There is no suggestion the waste comes directly from supermarkets and is more likely to be household waste

The increase of waste in Turkey (pictured at Adana province) has led to Turkish ministers banning imports on many types of plastic waste early this year – to little effect

Nina Schrank, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said it is ‘appalling’ to see ‘plastic from UK supermarkets’ shelves ending up 3,000 kilometres away in burning piles’

The Mail’s Banish the Bags and Turn the Tide on Plastic campaigns have played a major role in raising awareness about the harms of plastic pollution (pictured: Plastic found in Adana province in Turkey)

In just four years, it went from taking 12,000 tons to 210,000 tons. It has led to Turkish ministers banning imports on many types of plastic waste early this year – to little effect.

Nina Schrank, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: ‘It is appalling to see plastic from UK supermarkets’ shelves ending up 3,000 kilometres away in burning piles on the side of Turkish roads.  

‘We must stop dumping our plastic waste on other countries. The heart of the problem is overproduction – the UK is the second biggest user of plastic waste per person in the world, behind the US.’

The Mail’s Banish the Bags and Turn the Tide on Plastic campaigns have played a major role in raising awareness about the harms of plastic pollution.

A recent YouGov poll showed that 86 per cent of Britons are concerned about the amount of plastic waste produced by the country. 

The same poll also found 62 per cent support banning exports of plastic waste.

A YouGov poll showed 86 per cent of Britons are concerned about the plastic waste produced by the country. It also found 62 per cent support banning exports of plastic waste Pictured: Tesco cat food packaging found by Greenpeace team

Plastic packaging for Volvic water was found by Greenpeace investigators among plastic waste that had been dumped on Turkish roadsides 

Greenpeace UK’s Nina Schrank has argued that the heart of the plastic waste problem lies with ‘overproduction’, adding ‘the UK is the second biggest user of plastic waste per person in the world, behind the US’

The Greenpeace investigation has claimed that the plastic waste from the UK has been illegally dumped and burned on Turkish roadsides

Piles of plastic waste, from UK, German and global food brands (pictured: Pepsi bottle) were found dumped in the Adana province in Turkey, a team of investigators from Greenpeace found

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