Southeast Asia’s Waste Ban: The emergence of a Global Waste Crises

Two years ago, Beijing has announced to reduce its global waste imports on plastic and paper waste at a commensurate rate. As the mecca of global waste imports; China imports 56 percent of the total global waste imports. This decision induces a gargantuan shift over the practice of the recycling industry at a global scale. Subsequently, developed countries such as; Canada, US, UK, and Japan innately sought alternatives in recycling their plastic and paper wastes. Thus, developed countries starts to export their wastes to Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia due to their maxed out capacity  recycle plastic and paper wastes (Imahashi, 2019). However, since the beginning of July 2019,  number of Southeast Asian countries start to implement heavy restriction on waste imports. Such injunction enforced by Southeast Asian countries arises the question over how such action is enacted as a mean to respond to the trend that is present within the nexus of the global waste management (Scheneuberg, 2019).

The heavy restriction over waste imports by a myriad of Southeast Asian countries, this exhibit an act of recrimination over the fabrication of a global waste management structure since the shock imparted by China’s decision. To some extent, the act of adopting heavy restrictions is followed under the ramifications of environmental degradation, prompted by the plastic waste that is imported. Albeit, further allegations over the transport of unsorted plastic waste by waste smuggler athwart Southeast Asian countries merits heavy implementation of governmental controls on waste imports. Hence the conception over the consequence of unsorted plastic waste in shipping containers that brings contamination to the local environment through chemical run-off, is articulated as the common believe that heavily supports the means of increasing restriction on waste imports (Imahashi, 2019). Conversely, according to the 2018 waste management report by the World Bank; over 90 percent of wastes in developing countries are disposed in an unregulated and perilous manner, as only 10 percent of waste in developing countries is recycled. In a sense, most contaminated plastic wastes are incinerated in an open area, therefore causing serious health and environmental consequences (Kaza, 2018).

The inception of Southeast Asian nations argumentation in tightening the control of its waste imports deliberately propagate an environmental credo among its Southeast Asian communities and as a means to strengthen the execution of its protectionist regulations over waste management. One of the raison d’etre for the influx of waste exports to Southeast Asian countries is the lack of import controls and stipulations that are implemented (Peter, 2019). The emerging trend of increasing restrictions over waste imports of plastic and paper by Southeast Asian nations can be scoped upon the vista of consequentialist impacts that the waste imports induces to the local environment and communities through the increasing quota sent waste across Southeast Asian nations. The quasi-verity that there is 1,600 unsorted plastic waste of polyethyleneterephthalate and Polyvinyl Chloride imported in Cambodia mid-July which brings contamination to nearby landfill, and the emission of toxic fumes in Malaysia due to the incineration of imported plastic wastes acts as one of the pivotal impetuses in articulating tighter protectionist controls over the transfer of waste in most Southeast Asian nations (Vicheika, 2019).

Therefore, in order to analyze the tightening of waste control in Southeast Asia since China’s waste ban, one must scrutinize the processes of waste displacement that is assorted in developed countries. As a meticulous oversight, on the micromanagement of local waste assortment should be imperative in order to sustain the global recycling industry (Kaza, 2018). By embarking the need to manage waste exports by developed countries and conceptualizing an environmentality ethos by waste exporters this may provide a solution over the contamination caused to the waste importing countries (O’Neil, 2019). Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morison starts to adopt a plethora of incentives in limiting waste exports by industry partnership and consultation in a given timeline. Scott Morison avers over the need of providing jobs to local communities by limiting the number of waste exports and to start invest over the local recycling industry (Australian Associated Press, 2019).

In conjecture to the phenomenon of waste ban athwart Southeast Asian nations, the response embedded by most Southeast Asian countries brings a significant impact over the exercise of the global recycling industry. Hence, further actions of micro-waste management at the grass-root level through the conceptualization of environmental ethos by waste exporters’ communities may bring a solution to the assortment of waste in waste importing countries. Through the tightening of waste controls in waste importing countries limits over the transport of illegally transported wastes that are causing environmental degradation.

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Writer : Handono Ega

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