For many years, China was main importer of solid waste of many countries, now other countries suffer the consequences of the Chinese import ban.
Since the 1980s China imported waste materials to convert the waste into power for their growing manufacturing industries.
More than 9 million metric tons of rubbish, half of the world's waste, was imported by China every year. This is a tremendous amount and created all sorts of environmental problems, foremost air-pollution! The four countries which exported most of their rubbish to China were the USA, the UK, the European Union as well as Japan.
The resulting pollution called for limiting this way of powering the economy through the burning waste material. Greener and cleaner solutions had to be found.
In January 2018 China imposed a ban on solid waste imports including plastic, paper and metals. However, many countries struggle with the removal of their country's waste since China has closed its door to international waste exporters who dumped their unwanted waste there.
Today, China is leading developments in the renewable energy sector which means they create new technologies that can efficiently convert sun, water and wind energy into power.
The waste exporters, however, now often simply shift their focus to other South EastAsian countries and now transport their waste to Malaysia, Vietnam or Thailand. The whole region already experiences major air pollution which is also due to forest burning.
"In the long term, the problem has to be solved at source. North America and Western Europe must take clear and conscious efforts to reduce waste." (Lawrence Loh, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore)
The calls for developed countries to act more responsibly get louder. Developed nations must cut their own waste generation instead of dumping unwanted trash in other countries.
image: Pong Ketkeawmangkon / Shutterstock