What’s Going On Here?
On Tuesday, Malaysia announced it is to send back over 3,000 metric tonnes of contaminated plastic imported waste to countries including the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
What Does This Mean?
After China banned the import of plastic waste in 2017, other countries began to take the brunt of our waste problem. Since then, rubbish has accumulated across the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Tonnes of the waste found in Malaysia is contaminated, rotting, or had been falsely labeled and smuggled into the country. (Recycling sent from Australia included plastic bottles full of maggots!) This has prompted Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s Environment Minister, to announce this fight against imported waste.
Malaysia isn’t the first country to make this move. Last week the Philippines threatened to dump rubbish in Canadian waters if Canada refused to take their exported waste back.
Why Should We Care?
This announcement highlights the huge issue we have with waste – we’re generating far too much of it, whilst we don’t have the means to recycle or dispose of it. If Malaysia sends our imported waste back – where will it go? What will we do with it? Perhaps it’s finally time for the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ way we’ve looked at our waste to change.
Lauren Singer, founder of Trash is for Tossers, inspired thousands with her mason jar full of all the non recyclable / compostable rubbish she generated in 4 years. Maybe we need a big glass jar in Parliament Square so everyone can see the waste we produce?
Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth, is calling on Michael Gove to create more recycling facilities here in the UK – and to start tackling the plastic waste problem.
You can calculate your plastic footprint using this handy tool from Greenpeace UK. If your waste mountain is a big ‘un, there is bad news. You can’t just dump it in your neighbours garden! Instead, why not try reducing the amount of waste you make? We love this list of 100 tips from Zero Waste Home.