China’s Neighbors Struggle with Plastic Ban

Scrap plastic is overflowing in Asia, including China’s neighboring countries. Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia are beginning to experience the effects of the plastic ban, causing concern amongst several countries. In this week’s blog we present the updates regarding waste imports and exports as well as the new challenges the industry is facing.

Other Countries Under Pressure

Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and other Asian countries are struggling to find a solution to handle the large amounts of waste being imported into their countries. They have become the new dumping ground since China put their foot down last year with the plastic ban.

Nikkei Asian Review reports that other countries, such as Poland, are also feeling the sting. They reveal, “The impact is being felt well beyond Asia, too. Poland has faced more than 60 highly toxic fires at dumps this year, with officials saying they think many were set deliberately to destroy smuggled rubbish.” Other countries are not prepared or equipped to handle the large amounts of waste that China refuses to accept, thus creating an industry struggle.

Digging into the Data

Nikkei Asian Review provides data and quotes from Steve Wong of Hong Kong recycling company Fukutomi. The data demonstrates that imports of waste plastics have increased significantly in Malaysia and Thailand since July of last year when China planned to halt their imports.

According to the article, “Wong estimates 1,700 licensed recyclers in China have been affected by the import ban and that 30% to 40% of them have moved their operations to Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.” Some recyclers have been forced to close their factories in China, causing them to open factories in these other countries to address the issue temporarily. China is continuing to stand firm on keeping their doors closed to imports that violate their new standards, the environment, and puts garbage collectors’ health at risk.

Looking for Alternative Solutions

Other issues have arisen as a part of the changing conditions in the industry. For instance, Cat Lai and Hiep Phuoc ports experienced illegal dumping. The Polish Prime Minister made comments about how this negatively impacts the environment through pollution and he intends to take the necessary steps to stop this behavior. The costs associated with devising alternative solutions are burdensome, which explains the reasonable hardships present in the industry.

Nikkei Asian Review is labeling the import ban and its negative effects as “Beijing’s war on rubbish.” The article opines that China may be helping the rest of the world out when looking at the bigger picture. This considers that China’s changes may be the push the recycling industry needed to create a healthier environment and brighter future.

At Berg Mill, we continue to work hard to overcome fluctuating commodity markets, opening markets in other countries, forging strategic alliances, and improving domestic processing capabilities. We would like to help you move off any paper, plastic, or metal scrap. Berg Mill has the expertise and know-how to navigate through these troubled waters.

If you handle large amounts of recycled waste and are looking for solutions to offload idle scrap, please contact our industry veterans at Berg Mill Supply.