NEW DESTINATIONS BEGIN IMPOSING BANS
Importing countries, recognizing the devastation that the plastic waste trade has caused for their people and environment, have followed China’s lead to enact bans and restrictions of their own.
Timeline of bans/restrictions
|July 2017||China sends notice to the World Trade Organization that it will crack down on plastic scrap imports|
|January 2018||“National Sword” takes effect, China begins enforcing plastic scrap restrictions|
|March 2018||China announces that it will impose a more rigorous contamination standard for imports of 0.05%, down from 1.5%|
|April 2018||Thailand imposes a temporary ban on plastic scrap|
|May 2018||Thailand lifts temporary ban on plastic scrap
Malaysia temporarily stops issuing permits to import plastic scrap
|June 2018||Malaysia resumes issuing plastic scrap permits|
|July 2018||Vietnam says it will stop issuing new licenses for waste imports and crack down on illegal shipments of paper, plastic and metal|
|July 2018||China announces that it will ban all imports of “solid waste” by the end of 2019|
|August 2018||Malaysia announces three-month freeze on issuing plastic waste permit
Thailand announces an e-waste ban: it will ban imports of 432 types of scrap electronics and will take effect within 6 months
|October 2018||Malaysia announces that it will take steps to limit the import of plastic waste and phase out imports of other types of plastic scrap (including “clean” plastic) within 3 years
Thailand announces that it will permanently ban plastic imports by 2021
|November 2018||Indonesian Industry Minister sends a letter to environment minister requesting that they lift the ban on importing plastic. Indonesia currently has a blanket ban on importing waste but not definitive rule on recyclable plastic, as well as lax customs inspections so plastic waste enters with shipments marked as recycling, or as mixed paper recycling|
|March 2019||India announces that it will ban all plastic scrap imports|
|April 2019||Vietnamese officials announce that they will bar all imports of plastic scrap by 2025|
BEYOND SOUTHEAST ASIA
Following the bans and restrictions in Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India, imports to those countries dropped, according to research by Greenpeace East Asia1. However, the patchwork nature of individual country bans means that plastic waste flows shifted to other countries, including Indonesia and Turkey.
Furthermore, after steep drops after the bans, data in the last quarter of 2018 suggests that imports in Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan are beginning to tick up again. Maintaining the bans in the absence of international regulation in the plastic waste trade requires vigilant enforcement.