Waste Streams — Tracing Romania’s Tangled Trash

Cinzia Bongino and Versavia Ancușa


For years, the Romanian press has decried the nation’s portrayal as ‘the dump of Europe’. All types of waste, both legal and illegal, find their way into Romania via boats and trucks, often facilitated by corruption, economic interests, and political connections. However, the fate of this waste within the country remains largely undisclosed. 

‘Waste Streams — Tracing Romania’s Tangled Trash’ investigated the waste management system by analysing statistics, policies, and legislations within Romania and across Europe. Illustrated in the form of a waste sorting facility, one conveyor belt is a visual representation of Europe’s waste production, export strategies, and associated directives, shedding light on continental waste dynamics. Another conveyor belt focuses on Romania’s waste infrastructure, and its health and environmental impacts.

Drawing on data, news reports, and local knowledge, the project converges diverse entry points into a single stream of information. When viewed as a continuous flow of data involving imports, exports, and materials, the waste system is acknowledged as a trade mechanism, wherein waste functions as a commodity.

Full video: Garbage Image Detection. Courtesy the designer
Full video: Illegal Dumping Detection. Courtesy the designer
Full video: Geometry of Garbage. Courtesy the designer
Full video: The Romanian Landfills. Courtesy the designer

Cinzia Bongino is a graphic, information, and web designer. Specialised in UX/UI design and data visualisation, she works with clients and design studios in Italy, Northern Europe, and the United States. She also develops data journalism projects for artistic contexts.

Versavia Ancușa is a computer science lecturer at the Politehnica University of Timișoara, specialising in reliability, complex systems, intelligent agents, and interdisciplinary data mining applications.

Data sources
  • Eurostat
  • Romanian Ministry of the Environment
  • Romania Open Data (data.gov.ro)
  • Border police reports
  • National and regional Romanian newspapers