Return to sender, take care of your own plastic waste
Have you ever thought about what happens to all our plastic waste? I mean the waste from countries like Canada, UK, and the U.S. just to name a few? It seems we, the modern and “advanced” countries think it is easier to dump our garbage onto other countries instead of recycling it ourselves. Personally, I was not aware of this problem until I read this story on CNN World.
One country which said no
Malaysia has said “basta”, we do not wish to be your garbage bin anymore. Go and take care of your own created pollution. They will return 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic to the countries of origin. It seems that nine shipping containers were discovered at Port Klang which is west of Kuala Lumpur. In those containers was a mix between wrongly labeled plastics and non-recyclable waste. It even included a mix of e-waste and household wastes.
E-waste has no place in a container with recyclable plastic. E-waste is a combination of discarded electrical or electronic devices. If the bits and pieces are not treated and recycled in the right way, it may pose a health danger as well as causing environmental pollution.
Malaysia will return the plastic waste
Mr. Yeo Bee Yin, minister of energy, science, technology, environment, and climate change was not amused, to say the least. The following countries can expect a return of their waste products to then to be dealt with in the place of origin. These countries are the U.S. UK, Canada, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Netherlands, and Singapore.
I find this is more than embarrassing for those countries, a real loss of face. Most of these countries have an exaggerated use of plastic to start with and secondly are wealthy enough to take care of their own waste. That they prefer, probably a money question, to send their garbage on a long trip just to get rid of it makes one think.
Last month Spain received back 5 containers of waste. More countries in Europe are “guilty” of this crime but it seems that Japan is on top of the list as a plastic waste exporter.
No wonder Mr. Yeo Bee Yin said enough is enough. When you look at the data it is quite staggering. It seems that one UK recycling company got rid of 50.000 metric tonnes of plastic waste in the past 2 years. That is enormous, 1000 containers exported by 1 company in one country. One cannot continue to shove ones responsibility away. Like out of sight is problem gone, it does not function like that.
The Philippines was not amused either
Just a few weeks ago there was an incident between the Philippines and Canada. It even caused some diplomatic friction when the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, said he would be prepared to declare war on Canada if they did not take their garbage back. Canada could only pacify Duterte by promising to pay for the full cost of this operation and take it back before the end of June.
Important Basel Convention
187 Countries, including Malaysia, signed the Basel Convention. The UN Environment and the European Commission jointly hosted a conference in parallel with the UN General Assembly, enabling governments to join the race to the top through the Global Plastics Platform. Many countries have woken up to the serious threat of plastic. India plans to ban all single-use plastics by the years 2022.
There will be no more plastic bags in Chile, Botswana, and Peru. Another good example of this plastic battle is that Nigeria will set up recycling plants across the country. One can battle this plastic overload by implementing measures and each country should manage its own waste plastic instead of shipping it somewhere else.
Marine life suffers because of our plastic and millions of animals die each year. They are trapped in nets or plastic bags. Sea birds have plastic rings around their beaks. Turtles eat plastic and these pieces of plastic fill their stomachs and the animals eventually starve and die.
I think it is quite ridiculous to keep spreading ones plastic waste from one country to another, even traveling for weeks overseas. There must be better methods to avoid this nonsense. I think first of all people have to become conscious of what is happening in their own homes.
Some ways to reduce your plastic use
If you cannot avoid a plastic bag, then at least reuse it.
Go shopping with your own cloth or plastic bag and buy fruits and vegetables which are not wrapped up in plastic. After all, they come in their own wrapping, which is the skin.
In case you go to a take away one could consider going there with your own containers to avoid those styrofoam plastic boxes.
If you get a plastic straw in a bar tell these people you want a paper straw.
How about taking your own coffee mug from home, like that you save at least 1 plastic cup from being used.
There are companies which have reformulated a part of their product to lessen the plastic damage caused to fauna and flora.
Support companies which use recycled plastic, whether it is for wrapping or the actual products. It is quite amazing what things can be made out of old plastic.
Take as an example these fashionable ballerina shoes, one would really not know, seeing these shoes, that some of their parts are made of recycled plastic. Even the boxes these shoes are sold in are biodegradable.
How about some swimwear? Shorts for the beach made of 11 recycled plastic bottles, how cool is that?
There are many more items which can be made of recycled plastic, like fishing net sunglasses or the bottles for hair products. By changing the bottles used for these products, the planet will be spared 360 tons of new plastic each year. The list gets longer every day as people and companies come up with new ideas and solutions.
Come on people, we can all do better than this. If we all do our bit, the world would be a better place. Luckily there are already a lot of people who spread positive news, including solutions on the internet. Take as an example Zero waste man, the personal journey of Hendrik who is making his carbon footprint smaller.
Source: CNN World, Story on May 29, 2019, by Ushar Daniele and Helen Regan
Photo Source: Pixabay
Our world knows many problems and most are men made. Besides the plastic overload, our planet is suffering there is another serious problem in many places. Air pollution poses a grave health hazard. You might like to also read the following post.