‘Scandal’ of plastic waste dumped illegally in Far East
It is a scandal that up to 3,000 tonnes of illegal non-recyclable plastic waste from Britain and other Western countries has been found dumped in Malaysia.
That’s the view of Midlands green energy expert Ron Fox on hearing the news that the Far East country was sending the rubbish back and announcing that it would not be a dumping ground for rich nations’ trash.
“Many British people will be shocked by the news,” said Ron. “They believed that what they were throwing out was being recycled and not being exported to Third World places halfway round the world.”
The Malaysian Environment Ministry said they were embarrassed by revelations that vast piles of refuse, including packaging sold by British supermarkets, had been found discarded in their country.
Dozens of recycling factories have started in Malaysia, many without operating licences, and communities have complained of environmental problems.
Now the Far East country is to send back 60 containers of plastic waste, which had been imported illegally, to the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain.
However, the UK Environment Agency said they had not yet received a formal request from Malaysia to repatriate any waste. They added Britain was committed to tackling illegal exports and that anyone found to be breaking the law could face a two-year jail term or an unlimited fine.
Since China banned plastic waste exports last year the problem has grown worse in countries such as Malaysia where figures have tripled since 2016 to 870,000 tonnes last year.
“Many householders do not realise that as a country we export about two thirds of our plastic waste,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park.
He said that although it was meant to be recycled much of it was of such poor quality it ended up being incinerated, sent to landfill or being dumped in developing countries where it was disposed of using environmentally harmful methods.
“The problem is that plastic unsuitable for recycling is burnt, which releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere or it ends up in landfill, which can contaminate soil and water sources,” Ron added.
But he said one encouraging move is that about 180 countries have agreed recently to amend the Basel Convention to make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated.
However, the United States, the world’s top exporter of plastic waste, has not ratified the 30-year-old pact.
“We must take responsibility for our waste, particularly our single-use plastic,” added Ron. “The Government has a great opportunity to do this through plastic reduction targets and a plastics tax in the environment bill.
“But we as individuals can play a part as it is estimated that each of us in the throws away 4,000 pieces of plastic each year.”
To find out more about green energy and ideas to cut our environment footprint contact Ron Fox at Noreus Ltd on 0845 474 6641 or 078171 26945 or go to www.noreus.co.uk.