PhysOrg in this article titled ‘Turkey: Europe’s top destination for… trash’ by Raziye Akkoc is a little an anti-thesis to its so-called and recent foreign adventures from the Caucasus to North Africa.
Tonnes of plastic packaging destined for recycling from popular British supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and French frozen food retailer Picard is instead ending up being dumped illegally in Turkey as the country has become the top destination for European waste.
Recycling firms in Turkey defend the rise in imports, arguing the waste plastic is needed for the growing industry which allows the reuse of material that otherwise clogs landfills for decades.
But the environmental consequences are increasingly hard to ignore, with illegally dumped plastics visible around the growing number of sites in southern Turkey where European plastics are meant to be processed.
There are at least 10 known sites. AFP visited three last month and a reporting team came across a fourth by accident after discovering a fresh load dumped on the side of a road in southern Adana province.
Piled in mounds or strewn in ditches, AFP identified plastic waste from the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
“European citizens need to know this: the last stop for their waste that they carefully separate into different boxes is not a recycling facility,” said Sedat Gundogdu, a professor at Cukurova University in Adana.
“It’s here where there are mountains of waste,” he told AFP in front of a mound of illegally dumped plastic.
While it is unclear just how much of the imported waste plastic meant to be recycled is ending up in illegal dumps, as long as recycling is expensive it remains a possibility.
As Western Europe pays for the waste to be taken away, there is a financial temptation for Turkish firms that import it to dump it rather than pay to recycle it.
Interpol warned in August about the rising involvement of criminal organisations in the global illegal plastic waste trade.
And activists have warned about the environmental problems caused by illegal dumping and burning of plastic waste.
‘Can’t easily be controlled’
Despite its green aspirations, the EU still recycles less than a third of its plastic waste, burning or burying the rest. It only recycles half that itself, sending the remainder abroad.
Turkey became Europe’s go-to destination for plastic waste after China began to close its doors to foreign waste from January 2018.
Monthly imports of plastic waste from Europe leapt by more than ten-fold from 2016 to 2019, according to Eurostat data, with Turkey taking in nearly a quarter of what the EU exported last year.
Britain led the way by far, accounting for over a quarter by itself.
In September, Turkey’s environment ministry instructed recycling companies to import no more than 50 percent of their needs and to source the other half domestically.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace Mediterranean has called for a total ban on plastic waste imports in Turkey and also pointed to the lack of inspections and transparency over the sector’s operations in Turkey.
Cukurova University professor Gundogdu agreed: “This isn’t a thing that can be easily controlled”.
Waste mountains or thread
But not all plastics imported from Europe end up being dumped along roadsides, as AFP saw in the province of Gaziantep, where an empty Sainsbury’s bottle of olive oil began its journey to become thread.
Plastic bottles imported from Europe and the United States are cleaned, ground into flakes and melted down to become fibre which is then transformed into thread for use in clothes.
GAMA Recycle exports 1,500 tonnes of it every month to 30 countries including Spain.
The company’s chairman Zafer Kaplan said some of the recycled thread is used by global brands such as H&M, Zara and Ikea as well as Turkish fashion retailers.
‘Good for the environment’
Although Kaplan acknowledged Turkey needs to improve its domestic waste collection system, he said “even if we collected all of our waste, this wouldn’t be enough to meet the recycling industry’s needs.”
Demand for the recycled products from European and Middle Eastern countries outstrips what Turkey could produce from domestic plastic waste, Kaplan said.
Moreover, it is taking “material that would not decompose for many years” if left in landfills and “makes it something that can be reused,” said Mehmet Dasdemir, who coordinates the research and development department at GAMA.
“And this is good for the environment.”
False idea about recycling
But Gundogdu said there is a false idea among the public that plastic is suitable for use as it is being recycled, when a drastic reduction in their use is needed.
Environmentalists now worry about a surge in the use of plastic because of the coronavirus pandemic as people don masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment usage.
Some of the illegally dumped waste ends up in rivers that empty into the Mediterranean Sea, with the plastic washing up on Turkish beaches, putting the tourism industry at risk.
“We come across single-use plastics the most in the seas,” said Greenpeace Mediterranean’s plastics project director Nihan Temiz Atas, who called for a ban on their use.
Statista querying Where America’s Used Vehicles Get Exported To elaborates in its AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, this article by Niall McCarthy, not only provides us with quite a clear answer that is illustrated as usual by a graph but with also some related explanations.
The US vehicles export to the world, according to a new report published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which, based on an in-depth analysis of 146 countries revealed that in 2015, 14 million used light-duty vehicles find their way to most developing countries. The snag is that per this report, this fast-growing global vehicle fleet, air pollution and climate change and the lack of adequate standards has allowed richer countries to dump their old, polluting and unsafe vehicles into developing countries. As a consequence, African countries have the largest number of used cars, followed by countries in Eastern Europe (24%), Asia-Pacific (15%), the Middle East (12%) and Latin America (9%). The UAE, despite its recent diversification policies, takes the lion’s share of those Middle East’s 12% with the added situation as illustrated in the attached Youtube video here below.
29 October 2020
The export of millions of used motor vehicles to developing countries is proving a major contributor to air pollution. The finding comes from a recently released United Nations Environment Programme report which states that 14 million light duty vehicles (cars, SUVs and minibuses) were exported to low and middle-income countries between 2015 and 2018. 40 percent of that total ended up in Africa. The European Union accounted for 54 percent of all used vehicle exports during the above period, followed by Japan’s 27 percent and the United States’ 18 percent. The vast majority of developing countries importing these vehicles have no environmental requirements or regulations governing their safety.
That has resulted in imported used vehicles providng a major contribution to air pollution and climate emissions in their markets. Poignantly, the analysis also states that most developing markets are importing vehicles today that would not be allowed to circulate on the exporting country’s road network. Some governments are attempting to implement change, however, and a group of West African countries are set to introduce minimum requirements for used vehicles from 2021. That is set to primarily involve the use of cleaner fuels as well as a maximum age for any second-hand vehicle imported.
Despite accounting for a lower share of total used vehicle exports than the EU and Japan, the U.S. still shipped 2.6 million overseas between 2015 and 2018 with a collective value of $24.5 million. So where are America’s old cars ending up? In 2018, at least, the UAE was the top importing nation, bringing in 129,489 vehicles surplus to U.S. requirements. Despite the UAE being a wealthy nation at the top of the list, there are several low or middle-income countries within the top-10. Nigeria imported the second-highest number of used vehicles from the U.S. in 2018 with more than 82,000 while Georgia came third with nearly 60,000. Cambodia is among the top export markets with 31,167 used vehicles while the Dominican Republic also imported around 27,000.
Gas investments in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region are declining, according to a report from Saudi Arabia-based Arab Petroleum Investments Corp. (APICORP).
The report highlighted worries about the challenge of meeting domestic demand given this slowdown. Private investors are taking a wait-and-see approach, driven by low gas prices, potentially putting more strain on governments.
The Gas Investment Outlook 2019-23 charts a reduction of $70 billion in gas spending from the previous report, 2018-22, but the outlook for petrochemicals has increased by 50%. Of the nine countries covered, investments are set to fall in seven. Petrochemicals are on the rise as countries focus on extracting the most amount of value from oil production.
The most notable fall in gas plans was in Kuwait, down nearly 80%, while Saudi Arabia was down 60%, with Algeria and Iran down around 50% each. Driving the $70bn reduction were Saudi and Iran. This is not necessarily a question of cutting investments, it can also be driven by major projects being completed. Saudi, for instance, commissioned its Wasit gas plant.
While the MENA region has moved towards the consumption of gas, for power generation and industry, continued access to supplies is driven by the government’s willingness and ability to pay for these supplies. This willingness will have a direct impact on meeting future supplies, APICORP said. Saudi is planning an additional 12 GW of greenfield power, while Egypt has 9 GW of projects, which “will require additional gas supplies”.
LNG supplies in the area are playing a part in meeting increased demand. Regasification terminals are on track in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, while Qatar is working on expanding its export capacity to 126 million tonnes per year by 2027. Around the world, for the first time, investment commitments in new LNG capacity this year passed the $50bn mark. Global demand for gas is increasing, it noted, but supply may outpace this until 2023, although a number of factors – trade wars and geopolitical tensions – are complicating such calculations.
While Qatar is working to cement its dominance of the liquefaction sector, Saudi Aramco is taking steps to become a player, having signed a deal this year for a potential interest in the Port Arthur LNG plan, in the US. Construction of Qatari trains are expected to carry a price tag of around $15bn.
Iran is leading the charge in gas and petrochemical investments, followed by Egypt, despite the countries’ share of spending to 2023 declining by $11bn and $5bn respectively from the previous APICORP report.
Saudi has made progress on its energy intensity of GDP and is increasing gas production, with the target of increasing sales gas volumes to 164 bcm per year by 2026. There are challenges to gas in the kingdom, including alternative fuel stocks, while shale production has gained some attention but carries a high cost, at $6-10 per mmBtu.
Abu Dhabi is also pursuing unconventional gas resources such as shale, in addition to offshore sour gas. The state imports gas via the Dolphin link, with LNG coming via two regas terminals. Abu Dhabi also began
Algeria must tackle the problem of low upstream spending and access to technology around maturing fields, in particular its Hassi R’mel field. Just over $8bn is expected to be invested in the country during the next five years, APICORP said. Companies working in the country’s energy sector have struggled with bureaucracy, with the report citing the recent cancellation of the $100 million debottlenecking project at the Rhourde Oulad Djemma field.
Production and exports have declined in 2019, with new fields coming onstream in the southwest providing only a “short-term fix”. Gas flaring accounts for the equivalent of 20% of Algeria’s domestic consumption, suggesting this might be one area for improvement.
The APICORP report described Egypt as “touting itself as a gas hub”, based on regional supplies, from states such as Israel, and existing infrastructure “but key elements are still amiss”. The country expects to consume 72 bcm of gas in 2020 and 92 bcm in 2021, APICORP said, citing Egypt’s plans. The North African state could run into a net deficit in 2025, on high domestic consumption and increased LNG exports.
MENA parents are attracted to e-commerce for the “Back to School” shopping, increasing their interests and buying habits at exponential levels between 2017 and 2019.
The buying trends between August 2017 and August 2019 in the Back to School category revealed that traditionally the sales spike around the month of August
In 2019, online sales reached their highest level, measuring a 6 times growth compared with August 2017
With the region opening up more to e-commerce and with the market competitive sellers, the Back to School online sales will stay on a growth pattern
ADMITAD analysts recently released an online sales report that shows Back To School shopping has grown 6 times since 2017. Analysts observed data over the course of 2 years measuring the buying trends in the Back To School categories across different countries in the MENA region.
The buying trends between August 2017 and August 2019 in the Back to School category revealed that traditionally the sales spike around the month of August. However, in 2019, online sales reached their highest level, measuring a 6 times growth compared with August 2017. With the region opening up more to e-commerce and with the market’s competitive sellers, Back to School online sales will stay on a growth pattern, expecting to reach in August 2020 the highest level measured in the past years.
“The growth we’ve seen in 2 years is indicative of MENA region developing into a more mature market in e-commerce, with giants like Amazon, Noon, Namshi creating outstanding value for the customers. Other factors are contributing too, such as the rise of social media influencers and the unparalleled cash value offers online shopping provides. Having said that, this is just the beginning as we estimate the growth to continue at a rapid rate in the next 2 years” said Artem Rudyuk, head of MENA Operations at ADMITAD.
The convenience of fast-delivery, an abundance of offers and eye-catching promotions alongside a wider diversity of the products, are some of the top reasons why MENA region Back-To-School customers’ interest in online shopping is growing.
One of the fastest-growing marketplace for parents, Sprii.com, is confirming the positive climb of the online sales during August, with a growth of 181% in the back to school category. Sarah Jones, CEO, and Founder of Sprii said: “Sprii has seen a 181% increase in sales in its back to school category over the last year. We see traffic fast moving away from your traditional bricks and mortar stores to online platforms as product ranges increase, prices are cheaper and delivery becomes easier. The leading contributor of growth in this category has been kids lunchboxes and healthy snacks, which we see in keeping with the regional movement towards healthy sustainable living, and the site-wide increase in organic product sales.”
The estimated increase in back-to-school spending represents an opportunity for MENA based e-commerce companies to capitalize on this new profit-making shopping season, together with Christmas, Ramadan, and Back Friday. The MENA region players have an unprecedented opportunity to convert customers with competitive advertising, offers, prices and bundles during the online browsing process.
Artem Rudyuk is the Head of MENA Operations for Admitad, heading the Development of affiliate partnerships between e-commerce merchants and online publishers on cost per action basis and bringing affiliate marketing in MENA region to a new level with the most transparent and tech advanced platform.
This year marks a decade since Yahoo acquired Maktoob, in a deal worth $164 million. It was the first time that a technology company based in the Middle East had attracted such significant interest from a giant of its day.
At the time, the deal paled in comparison to the acquisitions and mergers typical in the region, between telecoms operators, industry and real estate. But for the entrepreneurship ecosystem, it was a seminal moment, validating the region as a place for technology and startups.
Back when this happened, there were no venture capital (VC) funds, mobile and internet penetration was low, Apple’s iPhone was still out of reach for most people and unicorns were mythical creatures with the power of flight.
Maktoob was founded in Jordan by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury as an Arabic webmail service. It grew to become the main destination for Arabic speakers on the internet and amassed 16 million users. Beyond the main portal, Maktoob offered online payments through CashU, an e-commerce platform that resembled US-based eBay called Souq and gaming company Tahadi MMO Games.
Yahoo was only interested in the main portal and so Toukan and Khoury established Jabbar Internet Group to absorb Maktoob’s other assets. In hindsight, Yahoo failed to see the consumer trends that unfolded in the region and the inevitable rise of online payments and shopping.
Souq became the biggest asset in Jabbar’s network. Emaar Malls reportedly made an offer of $800 million in 2017, but it was Amazon that would come to acquire the e-commerce site for $680 million of which $580 million was paid in cash. Emaar’s chairman Mohamed Alabbar decided to pump $1 billion into launching his own e-commerce platform, noon, as a result.
In between these two acquisitions, the technological landscape in the region had changed drastically. Internet penetration was on the rise, mobile penetration was close to or exceeded 100 per cent in every country of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Smartphones were also popular and Nokia’s dominance in the mobile phone market had been dismantled across the region, replaced by the app-friendly iPhones and Android-based Samsung and Huawei phones. With the introduction of 4G technology, the cost of mobile broadband fell from an average of $9.50 for half a gigabyte in 2016 to $5.27 for double the amount of data.
Empowering The Youth
Amid the protests and revolutions that disrupted the region’s economies in the so-called Arab Spring, the high youth unemployment highlighted the importance of the private sector for job creation. Entrepreneurship was presented as the silver bullet to stymie the rise of unemployment and a way to empower the youth, who make up two thirds of the region’s population.
Government policies and regulations across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) slowly became friendlier to entrepreneurs and investors. Efforts to cut down startup costs continue as regional competition to become a hub for entrepreneurship has ignited. Startups have been recognised as a way to create not only employment but a means to solve for problems that societies and economies face in the Middle East.
The general shift in attitude and government policies created fertile ground for companies like Dubizzle, Talabat and Babil to emerge, most replicating models and ideas that had proved successful in other parts of the world. Germany’s Rocket Internet arrived in 2011 and began founding startups aggressively, replicating successful business models to launch companies like Namshi, which was recently acquired by Emaar Malls, wadi.com and Carmudi. Serious investors began to emerge and institutionalise and the region became home to VCs and angel investors with an eye to reap lofty returns. Today, there are several funds dedicated to entrepreneurship and a few governments have established fund of funds, to co-match VCs and help develop a local ecosystem that can generate economic growth.
One of the most prolific of these early angel investors was Aramex founder and Wamda chairman Fadi Ghandour. He was one of the initial investors in Maktoob and then in Jabbar Internet Group before establishing Wamda Capital.
“The world was changing and I had felt the internet change the world, I already felt it affecting Aramex, so when Samih and Hussam came for investment, for me, it was a no-brainer,” he says.
Still On The Backfoot
But even after all these years, there has only been a handful of exits valued at more than $100 million across the Middle East. Oil still accounts for the majority of gross domestic product (GDP) in the GCC, youth unemployment is the highest in the world at 26.5 per cent according to the World Bank and costs to start a business in the current hub of the region, Dubai is among the highest in the world. For almost every country, regulations still need improvement beyond registering a business. Innovation is also lacking, the highest-ranking MENA country in the Global Innovation Index is the UAE at 36th place, behind smaller economies like Cyrpus and Malta.
Yet, there is hope.
“There are more mature companies and more mature VCs, so there are better deals happening. Exits like Careem and Fawry, those kinds of big companies that are having a real impact is one key metric of a potentially successful ecosystem,” says Abdelhameed Sharara, founder of RiseUp. “I think we are still very early compared to the US and China, but it’s a very promising space compared to the past.”
The region also has a more active female population in the startup sector, with 23 per cent of startups in Gaza and the West Bank led by women, while 19 per cent are led by women in Beirut, both ahead of New York which stands at 12 per cent. Even at RiseUp, women accounted for almost 40 per cent of the attendees last year.
“The region has really become a place where entrepreneurs can thrive and provides supportive environments for startups,” says Amina Grimen, co-founder of e-commerce beauty site, Powder. “In the beauty space, looking at the accomplishments of big female players like Huda Kattan and Dr Lamees Hamdan is truly inspiring.”
The United Nations (UN) celebrated on May 10th, 2021, the first edition of the International Day of the Argan Tree, an endemic tree in Morocco.
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