I have Fandango to thank for this title – he has been posting regularly on this subject from his west-coast-USA vantage point. I am interested in current affairs too, and normally have some nonsense or other to spout about one of the UK’s topical news stories. So, I like to join in. Maybe there’s something in your world that you’d like to post about?
My winner this week is a story I saw at the very start of the week. It’s a bit of a coincidence that only a week ago, I posted on my own my own environmental guilt trip. I might worry, but there are some steps I do take. Some of them are just tiny steps, like separating out all my garbage into different bins for recycling.
My working assumption is that when I take the trouble to put my garbage in the correct bin, it does actually get recycled. But this just my assumption, once my garbage is collected I have no real clue. But it is not always the case. Garbage is picked up by the recycling companies, for sure, but it is sometimes just shipped off someplace abroad, because it is cheaper to send it somewhere else than to recycle it. Out of sight, out of mind.
Okay, this is not particularly me, but certainly in the UK and likely in your country too – the EU is the largest exporter of plastic waste in the world, period, whilst if we’re talking about individual countries, the USA tops the list. South-east Asia is a favourite dumping ground.
China, to its credit, banned the import of waste in 2017, but other countries continued on. Malaysia, for example, saw a sharp increase after China’s ban.
But I wanted to take my hat off to Malaysia this week, after a story appeared of them “deporting” 42 containers of waste. So far, this is the biggest individual return to sender yet. In total, they have now sent 145 containers back to source, including
- 43 containers back to France
- 42 containers back to the UK
- 17 containers back to the USA
- 11 containers back to Canada.
I guess we’re all familiar with what a shipping containerlooks like, but if not, that’s just over 4,100 US tons. That number did not, at first, seem particularly large, but I guess that’s a whole load of ready meal containers! And besides, for now they have only detected the tip of the iceberg. Now that the authorities are starting to halt the imports, they project the will return around 110 containers in just in the first six months of 2020, more than half to the USA.
Now, I’m aware that there might well be knock-on effects to me. Plastic waste is shipped off in the first place because that’s cheaper than actually doing something with it here, so I’m aware that my taxes might rise as a result of this. But fundamentally I think that we all have to take responsibility for the mess we create. If that then causes an uproar, then maybe we need to create less mess? I know that personally, a lot of our garbage is food packaging, so maybe there needs to be less packaging in the first place?
Lastly, the even better news is that the Phillipines and Indonesia are getting in on the act and starting to send send waste back to source, too. There are a growing number of people out there who have decided that taking care of where they live is more important than making a fast buck.