Exports of plastic waste from the U.S. to developing countries have surged following China’s crackdown on foreign waste imports, new research has shown. Nearly half of plastic waste exported from the US for recycling in the first six months of 2018 was shipped to Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. The previous year, the U.S. sent more than 70 percent to China and Hong Kong.
This year’s ban on foreign waste imports by China, previously the world’s biggest importer of plastic waste for recycling, has left western countries scrambling to offload its extra plastic waste. The U.S., along with Britain, Germany, Japan and Mexico, is among the biggest exporters of scrap plastic to China. The analysis shows the U.S. is exploiting developing countries where there is no regulatory framework to ensure plastic waste is processed in an environmentally friendly way. “Instead of taking responsibility for their own waste, US companies are exploiting developing countries that lack the regulation to protect themselves,” said John Hocevar, Oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA.