Increase in illegal waste imports leads to waste imports bans
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 4:37 pm
Waste import bans have been announced by 3 countries in a bid to stem the flow of waste that used to be sent to China.
China announced a ban on imports of eight categories of plastic waste in January 2018, which was later extended to include 32 more materials in April. The ban has resulted in an increase in illegal waste imports to other countries which include Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Packaging from everyday British product export from the UK as recycling have been found discarded at multiple illegal dump sites in Malaysia.
Greenpeace Unearthed, an investigative news team run by the environmental NGO, found vast piles of waste standing 10 feet tall on a site measuring nearly three acres in Jenjarom near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
The site was found to contain waste from brands familiar to the UK including Fairy dishwasher tablets, Yeo Valley yoghurt and Tesco Finest crisps, alongside plastics from Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan and Australia. Use-by dates indicated the packaging was left there in recent months.
Sacks of discarded European and British plastics have also been found in an abandoned industrial complex in Klang and Ipoh, Malaysia.
Greenpeace investigations have found that since China imposed bans on the imports of waste, the quantity of UK exports of plastic scrap for recycling to Malaysia has increased dramatically. However, this has lead to Malaysia’s recycling system struggling to cope and in July 2018 the Malaysian government announce a three-month ban on plastic imports.
Thailand and Vietnam have also put in place controls to reduce waste imports.
In June, the Department of Industry Works in Thailand announced that they would no longer accept waste electrical and electronic (WEEE) or plastic while inspections are carried out to crack down on illegal waste and operators in the country. Thailand has also announced plans to stop accepting other countries’ plastic waste all together by 2021.
Vietnam announced in July that they would stop issuing licences for imports of paper, plastic, metal and other waste in order to control the influx of waste.
The Environment Agency (EA) is now embarking on a major investigation into claims of fraud in the UK’s recycling exports system, including allegations that exported UK plastic waste is not being recycled.
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