After German shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd was caught in the act of fraud by Senegalese customs, it has since been spotted docked in neighbouring Mauritania. Greenpeace fears that the vessel might try to dump its shipment of plastic waste there.
According to Liberation, the fifth largest ship owner in the world was fraudulently trying to bring 25 tons of plastic waste into Senegal. The illegal shipment of plastic waste was seized on the ship Hansa Neuburg. The company agreed to a fine of 2 billion CFA francs in addition to re-exporting the products in question.
This is not a first for the shipping company. In June 2020, it committed to stop dumping its waste in China, but had already started diverting waste to Vietnam by 2018.
Earlier this week, Greenpeace exposed how the United Kingdom and Germany have been dumping and burning plastic waste in Turkey. This debacle playing out in West Africa further illustrates the country's problematic involvement in dumping plastic waste in countries in the Global South.
Greenpeace Africa Oceans Campaigner Awa Traore has said:
"We are appalled at the shipping company's audacity. To simply ship this waste to a neighbouring country when the Senegalese government has put its foot down is a lack of respect to all Africans, because they think they can play us off against each other.
"Africa is not a dumping ground and can no longer be at the mercy of corporate interests. They 'greenwash' the world into believing that plastic packing can be sustainable, and then it ends up on our shores. The Senegalese government set a good precedent by imposing such a hefty fine, hopefully the Mauritanian government will follow suit and turn that ship away."
Greenpeace Germany Detox Campaigner Manfred Santen has said:
"Industrial nations have to stop dumping their plastic waste in countries of the Global South. We should not produce more waste than we can recycle at home. To permanently avoid illegal waste exports we need effective controls and sanctions, and take firmer action against corporations who contravene international laws. We also need to interrogate the role of shipping companies who profit off of waste trade."
Notes to editor -
 In February 2021, 52 environmental and social organisations appealed to Hapag Lloyd Chief Executive Officer to stop shipping hazardous waste (source)
Arin de Hoog, Interim Global Communications Coordinator, Greenpeace Africa: [email protected], tel: +31 646 197 329
Mikaïla Issa, Consultant Communications and Media for Greenpeace Africa: +221782199410, [email protected]
Awa Traoré, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner: +221770993001, [email protected]