ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon Print

How to end Asia's plastic waste war

Trade bans in Southeast Asia risk shifting problem to South Asia and Africa

| Malaysia
Malaysia has banned import of plastic scrap but the ruling has been poorly enforced and monitored.   © Reuters

The conflict currently raging in the world's recycling system wins far less attention than its trade war equivalent. But this battle over global plastics is an equally good illustration of the tensions bubbling up between emerging economies and the rich world, and the wider trend toward deglobalization they bring.

In 2018 China banned the import of many kinds of plastic waste, voluntarily giving up its position as the world's recycling giant. The plastic trade quickly moved elsewhere, mostly flooding into Southeast Asia. Countries with existing recycling sectors like Thailand and Malaysia were suddenly deluged with containers full of junk.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

Discover the all new Nikkei Asia app

  • Take your reading anywhere with offline reading functions
  • Never miss a story with breaking news alerts
  • Customize your reading experience

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more