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Waste Colonialism & The Trade of Recycled Plastic

Lydia Chai, Lawyer

14-Jun-23 15:00

Waste Colonialism & The Trade of Recycled Plastic

In 2018, China’s National Sword Policy came into effect, banning 24 (later 32) types of solid waste imports to the country, including plastic and paper waste. This, we know, caused a global disruption in the recyclable material market and redirected plastic waste to new destination countries, primarily in Southeast Asia. From January to July 2018, Malaysia became the world's top destination for plastic waste exports. This influx led to a sharp rise in illegal recycling facilities and illegal dumpsites, causing land, water and air pollution. This has been described as being akin to “waste colonialism” - where more powerful countries export their toxic waste problem to developing countries and acquire local resources to meet their own goals. In New Zealand, it was reported that since 2014, the country has sent over 300,000 tonnes of plastic waste overseas - mostly to developing countries, including Malaysia. There is now a petition for the country to ban plastic waste exports to developing countries, a campaign being led by Malaysian-born lawyer Lydia Chai. Lydia joins us, to share more.


Produced by: Juliet Jacobs

Presented by: Juliet Jacobs

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Categories:  internationalLaw/Activismenvironment

Tags:  waste colonialismmyth of plastic recyclingplastic wasteplastic pollution

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