Countries in Southeast Asia, long the recipients of huge consignments of Western trash, have decided to take a stand and send tons of the waste back to where it came from. The world's richer nations have been exporting waste for at least 25 years, particularly plastic waste that is sorted for recycling, Channel News Asia reported. Many of those countries lack environmental regulations as stringent as those in Western nations, making them an attractive place to dispose of plastics, according to The Guardian. It is difficult to track exactly how the global waste trade works. But, broadly, Western companies are prepared to pay to dispose of trash, and companies in poorer nations have been accepting the contracts.
CNA - Breaking news, latest Singapore, Asia and world news
Asean members Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, along with worst offender China, throw the most plastic waste into oceans. Southeast Asian nations vowed on Saturday to fight against plastic pollution in the ocean, as their leaders adopted a joint declaration during a summit in Bangkok. Asean members Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, along with worst offender China, throw the most plastic waste into oceans, according to a report co-authored by environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy. The declaration was commended by environmentalists as a good first step for the region, though doubts remained that implementation will be a challenge because the group has a code of non-interference that would leave necessary policymaking in the hands of individual member countries. The 10 Asean countries vow to "strengthen actions at the national level as well as through collaborative actions to prevent and significantly reduce marine debris," according to the official document seen by Reuters. They will also "strengthen national laws and regulations as well as enhance regional and international cooperation including on relevant policy dialogue and information sharing.
For now, few SE Asian countries restrict imports with strong environmental regulations like the West. Image: AFP. The global waste trade isn't easy to track.
Eight million tons of plastics are dumped in the ocean each year — that is about one truck of garbage per minute. The same research lists China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam — all in East Asia — as countries dumping the most plastic waste. Indeed, East Asia is producing waste faster than any other region in the world. With 80 percent of waste leakage coming from land, shared river systems and waterways are the conduits for this plastic pollution.