Unbeknownst to many, the U.S., and other nations, have been shipping their plastic waste for years to Asia to have it manually broken down and reused to make new plastic materials. However, as the Los Angeles Times reports, China banned that practice a year ago, so that now, Malaysia is the leading collector of America’s plastic waste.

As foreign correspondent Shashank Bengali writes, “Malaysia became the top destination for U.S. plastic waste, importing more than 192,000 metric tons in the first 10 months of 2018 — a 132% jump from the year before, according to federal government data.” This begs a lot of questions, including questions about cheap labor, and whether countries even have the space to accommodate so much waste. The Los Angeles Times shares more:

How scrap from California ended up in a junkyard 8,500 miles away, broken down manually by workers earning $10 a day, is the story of the reshaping of the global garbage and recycling system.

For three decades the United States and other industrialized nations have shipped most of their plastic waste overseas — primarily to China, where cheap labor and voracious factories dismantled the scrap and turned it into new plastic goods.

But 12 months ago, China banned nearly all plastic waste imports amid concern that emissions from processing were harming the environment. Many scrap dealers rerouted their cargo to smaller recyclers in nearby Southeast Asian countries, which were suddenly overwhelmed by tides of foreign refuse.

Read the full story on the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, read more of the latest conservation news below, and subscribe to receive the top news delivered straight to your inbox.

Recommended Reading

  • 85% of Republicans Reject That Climate Change Is a Serious Problem That Requires Action (Esquire)
  • California to require zero-emissions buses by 2040 (Mashable)
  • Global warming is melting the ice caps but there are fears it could lead to a new Cold War (The Independent)
  • Pittsburgh Struggles For Clean Air As Nearby Town’s Pollution Worsens (NPR)