A study by British scientists at the University of Heavy and Rare Metals (UHRM) in Wetwank, Yorkshire, found that countries are more likely to reach their recycling targets if they are more lenient towards metal smugglers. The study looked at 23 countries within and outside the European Union (EU) and in all but two cases, their hypothesis was validated by data on the ground. The exceptions were Romania and Turkey. In Romania, it was found that people from the roma community were more efficient than smugglers to informally implement national recycling strategies. In Turkey, it was found that all smuggled metals – in particular gold – were confiscated by Erdogan to strengthen a falling Turkish Lira and so did not count in official statistics.
“Our study sends a strong signal to countries that have national recycling targets or are obliged to implement the Circular Economy Package of the EU. It is more so for countries that are struggling to reach those targets. Letting smugglers to deal with recycling is a win-win strategy. It flourishes local black economy and makes criminals richer. This increases tax revenue and decreases unemployment by means of human trafficking. At the same time, it looks good in national statistics so politicians can brag about it and boost their ratings”, said Olof Smuglesson, project leader.
Sources of The Berlin Group claim that police force in most of the case study countries welcomed the results. In Iceland, police said they can finally focus on things that matter, such as punishing mentally impaired tourists doing off-road driving. In Norway, police welcomed the chance of shifting efforts from smuggling prevention to confiscating Finnish reindeers illegally crossing into the country. Governments seem to have also received the study well, apart from the US, where President Donald Trump tweeted he will impose a 25% import tax for metal smugglers.