No Space for Waste

Tired of being ‘treated like trash’, communities across Southeast Asia have reached a critical moment in the region’s battle to put a halt to the toxic trade in plastic waste.

While already inundated and overwhelmed by plastic pollution in their own backyards, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have become the dumping grounds for the world’s waste following China’s decision to turn its back on the global waste market in late 2017.

In just a few years, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of foreign plastic scraps have poured into the region under the guise of recycling – with importers from countries including the U.S., Japan, the UK and other EU countries taking advantage of loopholes in regulation and inconsistent systems management to ship their unwanted toxic plastic waste into ASEAN member states including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia – with mountains of plastic waste piling up at ports or left to rot or burned at illegal dumping sites.

All ASEAN countries must make an urgent joint declaration to end the trade in plastic waste imports from abroad, and put in place systems to support a sustainable plastic free world.

 

The issues

In recent months, both Malaysia and the Philippines have very publicly sent back waste shipments to their country of origin. Thailand has announced its intention to ban plastic waste imports by 2021. Malaysia has stopped issuing new permits for importing plastic waste. Vietnam has also stopped issuing new licenses for the import of waste and has overseen a crackdown on illegal shipments as thousands of containers of paper, plastic and metal scrap build up at the country’s ports, raising concerns about the environmental impacts.

But these unilateral measures cannot be the answer to this global waste crisis. Evidence suggests that as countries enact bans and contingency policies, they only help to move the problem elsewhere as importers seek out areas where regulations and restrictions are weaker.

What needs to happen

In our policy brief titled, Southeast Asia’s Struggle Against the Plastic Waste Trade, Greenpeace Southeast Asia challenges ASEAN leaders to end this plastic waste crisis with the following recommendations:

1. Declare an immediate ban on all imports of plastic waste, even those meant for recycling, and ensure all ASEAN countries ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.
2. Establish a holistic regional policy geared toward massively reducing the production of single-use plastic packaging and products, and facilitating innovation on reusable packaging and alternative delivery systems.
3. Advance a sustainable and ethical circular economy framework grounded on zero-waste approaches that protect human health and the environment, and enables the ASEAN region to decouple growth from excessive resource, production, consumption and wastage.

READ OUR REPORT

Things you can do

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Sign the petition
Share the petition
Say NO to single-use plastic

Southeast Asia is not a dumping ground. There is NO SPACE FOR WASTE. Tell ASEAN leaders that the trade in plastic waste imports is having an irreversible impact on our homes, communities and environment. It must stop now.

We can’t win this fight alone. Share the petition with friends and family on social media and ask for their support.

An estimated 111 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will be displaced by 2030 as a consequence of China’s import ban. Global cumulative plastic waste generation is expected to reach over 25,000 million metric tonnes by 2050. We need to quit plastics for good. There are so many ways you can take action to help stop plastic pollution at the source. Check out Greenpeace’s Million Acts of Blue toolkit for a plastic-free future!

1 Sign the petition

Southeast Asia is not a dumping ground. There is NO SPACE FOR WASTE. Tell ASEAN leaders that the trade in plastic waste imports is having an irreversible impact on our homes, communities and environment. It must stop now.

SIGN THE PETITION

We can’t win this fight alone. Share the petition with friends and family on social media and ask for their support.

SHARE THIS POST

An estimated 111 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will be displaced by 2030 as a consequence of China’s import ban. Global cumulative plastic waste generation is expected to reach over 25,000 million metric tonnes by 2050. We need to quit plastics for good. There are so many ways you can take action to help stop plastic pollution at the source. Check out Greenpeace’s Million Acts of Blue toolkit for a plastic-free future!

Download this toolkit