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The Billion-Dollar Waste Business

February 12, 2022

Waste has been disposed of illegally in Europe for years – with billions of euros in turnover. In Romania, toxic smog in Bucharest stems from German waste being incinerated along the city’s outskirts.


Recycling waste costs money. Instead, it’s often incinerated or buried – whether car tires, batteries, or even asbestos. This environmentally damaging practice is highly lucrative for a select few. In Romania, there is growing outrage. Octavian Berceanu, a former commissioner for the Romanian environmental police is now a climate activist who tracks down waste smugglers. “These are organized crime structures!” he says. Meanwhile, Romanian prosecutor Teodor Nita is investigating the waste mafia in collaboration with the European law enforcement agency Europol. But it is no easy task to prove wrongdoing on the part of the companies, intermediaries, and clients involved. A report by Lavinia Pitu.

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DW’s on-the-ground reporters are always close to the action, be it covering international events or zooming in on some of the quirks of daily life. Camera always in hand, they report on the changes they see taking place in Germany, Europe and around the world.