For a number of years, wealthy countries have been taking advantage of the poorer ones in every way possible. This is also the case with waste, especially with the notorious contaminated plastic and non-recyclable garbage.
For most of the European countries, the U.S., and Canada, the cheaper way to deal with it was to export it to the countries of the 3rd world. For the South-East Asian and East Asian countries, it was a way to raise their own gross national income.
And the piles of rubbish grew bigger and bigger, overflowing oceans’ shores. That all lead to the major issue with plastic waste pollution of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. So now, these countries are asking the “big” ones to take their trash away!
Contaminated plastic waste from Spain, packed in five containers, was sent back last month. Up to 3,000 tons of garbage will be returned to the countries of the European Union, U.K., U.S., Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh.
Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia Environmental Minister, said that Malaysia would not be a dumping ground for the rest of the world.
In the years 2013 and 2014, Canada exported tons of trash intentionally, mislabeled as plastic recycling. The Philippines has just returned that filthy waste back.
And It All Began With China
One of the largest importers of plastic scraps was China. In January 2018, China refused to buy any of it unless it was 99.5% pure. That was a huge blow to the $200 billion global recycling industry. Banning caused, as you have read, a chain reaction throughout Asian importers, which has led to a halving of plastic waste export.
The consequence of all these turn-offs was a lack of garbage disposal ground. Some piles of waste were redirected to other countries willing to accept it. Facing various difficulties with garbage management, those countries issued new controls.
Due to multiplying fires at dumping grounds, Poland delivered more rigorous rules in May 2018. That was caused by higher quantities of illegal waste after China’s ban. Malaysia has retracted import licenses and has been shutting down illegal processing factories. At the moment, import of plastic scraps is formally forbidden in Thailand, and it will end in full official prohibition in 2021.
This March, India banned solid plastic scraps import. At the end of 2018, some of these countries imported larger amounts of plastic waste again, according to The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (Gaia).
With the amounts of plastic trash increasing in 2016 to 235 million tonnes per year, the prognosis is that it will reach the number of 417 million tonnes per year until 2030.
If the world wants to survive, it definitely has to improve plastic disposal management and find a suitable way to exclude plastic from everyday use.