Southeast Asian communities flooded with plastic waste since China ban

Communities in Southeast Asia have been flooded with plastic waste diverted from China following the introduction of the Chinese Government’s waste ban at the start of 2018, according to a new report.

The report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Greenpeace, entitled ‘Discarded: Communities on the frontlines of the global plastic crisis’, brings the impact of China’s waste ban on communities in Southeast Asia into stark relief.

While the diversion of waste exports from China to alternative markets was convenient for exporters, the consequences have been catastrophic for communities in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia – the focus of the GAIA report – with the flood of plastic waste in particular leading to contaminated water supplies, crop death, respiratory illness from exposure to burning plastic and the rise of organised crime.

In order to stem the flow of plastic waste, the report calls for wealthy nations to take responsibility for their own waste and drastically reduce the production and consumption of single-use plastics ‘as it becomes abundantly clear that the world cannot recycle its way out of plastic pollution’.