Significant environmental degradation, crop failure and mass open burning of plastic waste have been tracked in Southeast Asia as the global economy increasingly depends on the region to deal with plastic and recyclable waste.
The new report, released by the global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), tracked the impact of China’s 2018 foreign waste ban on the region.
“Plastic waste from industrialised countries is literally engulfing communities in Southeast Asia, transforming what were once clean and thriving places into toxic dumpsites,” said Von Hernandez, the global coordinator of the Break Free from Plastic movement.
The report tracked waste flooding from China into Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, which promptly established import restrictions, with overflow then flowing into Indonesia, India and Turkey.
“Once one country regulates plastic waste imports, it floods into the next un-regulated destination. When that country regulates, the exports move to the next one. It’s a predatory system, but it’s also increasingly inefficient,” said Mr Hernandez.
The release of the report comes in advance of the Basel Convention convening on April 29 to May 10 to consider a proposal that will move to introduce greater transparency and accountability in the global trade of plastic waste.