MILAN/SOFIA/ARAD – Tens of thousands of tonnes of textile waste arrive in Romania and Bulgaria every year, mainly from Italy and Germany. Despite the fact the EU had acknowledged the extent of the textile waste smuggling across the continent, no strategy so far proved to be efficient in preventing it.

Most of what arrives into these Eastern European countries is not even declared as textile waste, but as plastic waste to be burned in cement kilns. Another part is labelled as second-hand clothes to avoid environmental agencies’ controls.
Only a small proportion of textile waste is declared as recyclable in transport documents.
In reality, however, they are neither recycled or sold as second-hand clothes nor even illegally burned, but dumped on wastelands or in abandoned warehouses.
The smuggling networks benefit greatly from the passivity and corruption of the authorities in Romania and Bulgaria, where the few criminal cases for waste smuggling have been closed without convictions.

Cities that came under scrutiny in this investigation: Milan, Naples, Sofia, Burgas, Arad, Constanta

Photo by Inquam Photos/George Calin.

Team members

Sorin Ozon

Sorin Ozon is a Romanian investigative journalist.

Cătălin Prisacariu

Cătălin Prisacariu is an investigative journalist based in Bucharest, Romania.

cătălin prisacariu

Stanimir Vaglenov

Stanimir Vaglenov is the online projects manager at Media Group Bulgaria.

Stefano Vergine

Stefano Vergine is an Italian investigative journalist

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