By Alexadnra Krauska
Rabat – A large ship arrived in Casablanca on Wednesday carrying 2,500 tons of garbage from Italy. The garbage, which included plastic, rubber materials, and used tires, was brought to Morocco to be burned in a cement factory in Casablanca and Settat.
“This incident is not the first of its kind,” said Mohamed Khalidi, the president of El Jadida, the regional center for the environment and sustainable development. “A certain number of associations have already dealt with other shipments of rubber and used tires from a European country, to be burned in a cement factory in Morocco.”
This exchange is a part of the global waste trade, in which wealthier countries ship their trash – especially more toxic waste – to less wealthy or developing countries to be handled there. If effective waste management programs are not in place in the country that receives the waste, trash burning is a common method to deal with it. However, the chemicals from the products, especially those in plastics and rubber, remain in the air and contribute significantly to air pollution.
According to research by Christine Wiedinmyer, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, carbon dioxide makes up a significant percentage of the gases released by burning trash. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is one of the greatest contributors to climate change. Furthermore, particles and other chemicals in the garbage can harm human beings and cause lifelong health problems.
By sending toxic waste and garbage to other countries, the burden disproportionately falls on developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, rather than the Western countries where the trash originated.
El Jadida condemned the shipment, saying, that the trash could “prove to be dangerous andtoxic, cause human and environmental damage, lead to the emergence of numerous serious and chronic illnesses, even birth defects and permanent disabilities.” They ask that European authorities punish those responsible, in order to protect the Moroccan environment.