Posts wrongly claim most countries in the world dump their waste in Pakistan
Pakistan is not on the list of top 10 waste importers
Claim: Pakistan is a top destination for countries to dump their waste, with most countries opting to dispose of their waste in Pakistan.
Fact: According to publicly available information, Pakistan’s relative share in the import of global waste is small. The misinformation appears connected to reports that 40 No Objection Certificates (“NOCs”) were issued to private parties in 2021 to facilitate the import of waste into Pakistan. However, only a handful of countries are party to these agreements.
Pakistan’s Senate’s Standing Committee on Climate Change noted during a session on 30 June 2022 that permission was granted to private parties to import waste into Pakistan from countries including the United Kingdom, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the United States of America, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Canada, and Italy.
A number of popular news websites and digital media organizations reported that Pakistan is “a top destination of waste import” and that “most countries dump their garbage in Pakistan”, despite the fact that there was no discussion of Pakistan’s relative share in the import of global waste at the senate body’s session. We decided to fact check this claim because it reached thousands of people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Fact or Fiction?
The countries that currently import or will begin to import waste into Pakistan do not comprise “most” of the countries in the world — this would require at least 98 countries dumping their waste in Pakistan.
To the contrary, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, a think tank monitoring and studying global trade, Pakistan was the destination for only 0.76% of the $1.38 billion worth of global plastic and scrap waste they tracked in 2020, with the United States (10.8%), Malaysia (8.05%), Taiwan (5.78%) Vietnam (5.59%) and Turkey (4.26%) receiving most of the total waste exported around the globe. Pakistan was not onin the list of top 10 waste importers.
When it comes to global waste, the United States was the largest importer of plastic waste according to the World Trade Organization in 2019, after China launched new policies to ban the import and dumping of waste from other countries in 2016. According to data from the European Union, in 2019, Turkey and the United Kingdom were themselves prominent destinations for EU waste exports, with Turkey still being the destination for most of the EU’s waste. In 2020, Turkey received 14.38 metric tonnes of waste from the EU, with Pakistan receiving only 1.36 metric tonnes from the EU the same year.
Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 17-day period from 1 July 2022 to 17 July 2022 using the following search terms:
- “countries” “waste” “pakistan”
- پاکستان” “کچرا” “دنیا”
On Instagram, the first search term turned up 84,956 total interactions across 15 posts, including this post by Propergaanda and this one by Hello Pakistan. Other posts can be found here, here, and here.
Conclusion: Contrary to posts circulating online, Pakistan is not a top destination for global waste, and neither do most countries send their waste to Pakistan. This is confirmed by statistics from the World Trade Organisation and the European Union.