As China and India are phasing out waste imports for good, the Western world is frantically searching for alternate dumping grounds.
Southeast Asia has become the most popular destination of waste trade but a growing number of nations there refuse the uncontrolled flow of garbage.
After Malaysia and the Philippines made their case, custom officials of Indonesia opened up several shipping containers of waste imports at random in the port of Surabaya. What they have found wasn’t on the labels. Instead of the relatively easy-to-recycle paper scraps the containers had bottles, plastics and the worst of all, used diapers in them. ’This is not appropriate and we don’t want to be a dumping ground’ – Sayid Muhadhar, a senior environment official told AFP.
The busted shipment of five containers from Seattle have been cordially returned to the sender. The containers in question belonged to a Canadian company. It’s not clear where the problematic waste had been originally produced. To catch other ’mislabeled’ shipments of dishonest waste dealers, Indonesian customs are doing non-routine checks in the ports of the capital Jakarta and of Batam on the island of Sumatra.
Meanwhile, the Philippines are fighting their own garbage war with Canada. The country has ordered 69 containers (2400 t) of waste exports to be ’repatriated’. The quarrel on waste is a heavily used rallying cry of President Duterte against foreigners. At some point, the firebrand head of state threatened with dumping the trash in front of the Canadian embassy at Manila.
The Canadian government amended environmental laws back in 2016, so private companies are liable to take back the kind of waste that does not appear on the paperwork of shipments.