Report Reveals US Shipped 157,299 Tonnes Of Plastic Waste To Malaysia This Year

"Instead of taking responsibility for their own waste, US companies are exploiting developing countries that lack the regulation to protect themselves."

Cover image via Saddam Yusoff/NST

Malaysia has been receiving an increase of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste from the US since China shut its doors to foreign trash

According to analysis by US census bureau data by Unearthed, the US shipped over 157,299 tonnes of plastic waste to Malaysia, a rise of 273% within the first six months this year. 

Other countries that have been affected by the US waste imports are Vietnam and Thailand

Vietnam's plastic waste imports rose by 43%, making it 71,220 metric tonnes while Thailand's rose by almost 2,000%, making it 91,505 metric tonnes.

Within the past three decades, countries like the US has sent millions of tonnes of plastic waste to China. In 2017, more than 70% of waste was sent to China and Hong Kong, reported The Guardian.

However just this year, China banned certain waste imports because it was seriously polluting its environment.

Image via Eco News

As a result, China's ban on waste imports has led to western countries scrambling to offload its extra plastic waste and dumping it in other countries instead

"Instead of taking responsibility for their own waste, US companies are exploiting developing countries that lack the regulation to protect themselves," said John Hocevar, Oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA (an investigative unit of Unearthed), reported The Guardian.

China's refusal to receive the rubbish has now produced "an enormous amount of plastic material that we don't know how to handle," he added.

Labour MP and member of the Environmental Audit Committee, Kerry McCarthy told Unearthed that she thought China's ban would "bring the government to its senses" to show that they could no longer rely on exporting their plastic waste.
"But instead the minister… challenged the view of this as a crisis, and left it to the market to find alternative export markets."

Some of the waste from the US includes single-use plastic bottles, plastic bags, and food wrappings which may contain toxic materials

"It's a problem for the US and other developed countries to produce, often, toxic material which they can't or won't take care of themselves," added the director.

Hocevar revealed that the average person throws plastic into the garbage assuming that it gets recycled, instead of shipped to China or Southeast Asia where it may be "incinerated or landfilled."

Image via The Independent

Recently, Malaysia has been taking steps to solve the plastic waste crisis

Three plastic factories were closed down in Banting, Kuala Langat this year, after residents' complaints of air and water pollution.

Two weeks ago, the government announced a new tax on plastic waste imports. It will also tighten requirements on operating permits for plastic waste recycling factories and shut down illegal factories. 

In September, a report unveiled that Australia, New Zealand, and UK were also dumping their plastic waste in Malaysia:

Meanwhile, the government aims to turn Malaysia into a zero single-use plastic nation: