Developed countries send their waste to Asian countries with little to no warning
The international trash trade has been getting out of hand for a long time, but now, conflicts run deeper. Developed nations have picked up a habit of sending their waste to nations in Southeast Asia as a way of cleansing their environment. They take advantage of the knowledge that some specific countries have loose policies with recycling and garbage management. Or they just want an easy out. Either way, enough is enough.
The misplacement of waste originates from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. And where does the trash go? To countries in Asia which are already in the midst of their own waste control management. The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are taking the brunt of it all with Malaysia in first place.
It was not always this way. China was once the world’s biggest importer of waste with a peak of nine million tonnes in 2012, but the large quantity of pollution started making it impossible to manage. China said “no more” and initiated an import ban from plastics and garbage. Unfortunately, Malaysia is picking up the slack as the logical second option to many recyclers in China, Japan, the United States and the European Union.
The accumulation of waste in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand is greatly affecting the countries’ environment as it receives trash from countless of developed countries in the west. The shorelines are getting polluted and the quantity is getting immeasurable. Most of the waste is contaminated and unrecyclable— a burden that they should not have to bear. Non-recyclable waste leads to incineration of the garbage on roadsides and unregulated dumping where poisonous fumes get released, ultimately harming the country, the people and the environment.
Now, they must send the waste back and taking ‘no’ as an answer is unacceptable.
The Basel Convention: Regulation Done Right
The Basel Convention is a treaty that regulates the spread of hazardous waste from one nation to another. Recently, the United Nations had a meeting and over 180 countries affirmed the addition of plastic to the agreement. This means that exporters of waste are required to get consent before moving unrecyclable and contaminated plastic to another country. This is a decision that has come at a fitting time, as many countries do not waste time asking for permission before they dump their garbage in another place. Cough cough!
While many Asian countries celebrated with the news, the United States, which is the largest exporter of waste and plastic in the world, strongly opposed to the deal. Fortunately, it is not a party to the Basal Convention making its vote moot. Jim Puckett from the Basel Action Network reported:
“The fact that the U.S. will no longer be able to use the rest of the world as a plastic waste dump is a very significant victory for the environment and global justice.”