China’s policy, enacted last year in January 2018, has jammed up recycling programs around the world by putting a stop to what had formerly been the recycling industry’s biggest market. The policy, named the ‘National Sword’ policy involved the ban of import of most plastics and other materials that were headed to recycling factories in China. For the past 25 years, China has handled almost half of the world’s recyclable waste material.
The move was an effort to halt a deluge of soiled and contaminated materials that was overwhelming Chinese processing facilities and leaving the country with yet another environmental problem.Source: Yale Environment 360
The policy covers imports of 24 different kinds of solid waste, including low-grade polyethylene terephthalate (material used in plastic bottles) and unsorted paper. With the ban, the flow of 7 million tonnes of trash is now disrupted.
The enactment of the policy has left many countries moving to find other dumping grounds in South East Asia. So what does this mean for us in Malaysia?
Our country had become the plastic dumping ground for the world.
To keep their countries clean, they are dumping their waste in Malaysia, which might cause greater harm to our environment and health. And so Malaysia become the plastic dumping ground for the world.
In October 2018, Reuters reported that Malaysia was importing nearly half a million tonnes of plastic waste in the first half of the year, and all from the top 10 source countries alone.
Many unlicensed factories used low-end technology and environmentally harmful methods of disposal to handle the waste, the article added.Source: Business Insider Malaysia
Yeo Bee Yin, Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change Ministry, has said that the waste that has been brought into Malaysia was done under false declaration of import This violates our environmental law.
In a press conference on April 23, Yeo told reporters that plastic waste was smuggled into Malaysia through shipping containers which were falsely declared as imports that did not require a permit, The Star Reported.Source: Business Insider Malaysia
Yeo wants these countries that are exporting their trash to take it back from Malaysia.
“Malaysia will not be the dumping ground of the world, we will send back (the waste) to the original countries,” The Star quoted Yeo as saying, and said that waste would be shipped back to the exporting countries, but not at Malaysia’s expense.Source: Business Insider Malaysia
It was also reported by Astro Ulagam that Yeo has warned these waste exporting countries and those who are importing these waste in Malaysia.
“If you ship your wastes to Malaysia, we will send it back without mercy,” she said, adding that those who imported the waste are traitors.Source: Astro Ulagam
According to Yeo, the import company that had smuggled the containers filled with waste has been identified. She was concerned about how easily these containers came into Malaysia’s ports and she would also make it so that Malaysia will take action against those involved in any foul play. Since January, 148 illegal plastic recycling plants have been shut down all around the nation.
So one may wonder, why would this happen and why in Malaysia?
The reason why Malaysia has become one of the illegal waste dumping destinations was revealed by the UN in a workshop in 2016.
In early 2016, UN revealed in a workshop that Malaysia is one of the illegal waste dumping destinations for many countries and our nation’s lack of coordination and knowledge makes it difficult for us to return the waste back to the countries of origin.
This statement was given following Romania’s attempt to dump its toxic waste in Malaysia in 2016.Source: Astro Ulagam
In the past year, Malaysia has already received 71,000 tonnes of plastic waste from Australia, and in the past 2 years, Britain has exported 50,000 tonnes to Malaysia.
But there will be changes, for the better, as recently five containers of these plastic waste has been returned to its country of origin, Spain. This will hopefully be a start to a new trend for our country.
It’s time we send these garbage back to where they belong!