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Asia Insight

China's scrap plastic ban saddles neighbors with piles of problems

Thailand and Vietnam struggle with redirected waste but is there a silver lining?

NIKKI SUN and APORNRATH PHOONPHONGPHIPHAT, Nikkei staff writers | Southeast Asia

HONG KONG/BANGKOK -- The world is awash with scrap plastic, six months after No. 1 importer China closed its doors to the recyclable materials on environmental grounds.

The ripple effects are hitting the shores of Southeast Asia's emerging countries, which have seen a surge in plastic shipments -- not all of them legal. "Thai people are angry that Thailand is becoming a place to dump the waste of other countries," said Surapol Chamart, the Industry Ministry's chief inspector-general.

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