Over the last three decades, the top plastic waste exporters, including the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom, sent abroad plastic waste weighting about 168 million tonnes, most of it to China. In 2018, China said “enough is enough,” and announced a ban on imports of plastic waste, setting off a crisis in the global waste system. The majority of this plastic was then redirected into Southeast Asia, with Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia being flooded with waste, at great environmental and human cost.
However, from local clean-up crews and campaigns to global action, a powerful movement to break free from plastics is making change in 2019.
International Agreement to Clean up Waste Trade
This week at the United Nations, over 180 countries took a major step forward in curbing the plastic waste crisis by adding plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that controls the movement of hazardous waste from one country to another. This change means exporters will be required to get consent from receiving countries before shipping most contaminated, mixed, or unrecyclable plastic waste, providing an powerful way for countries in the Global South to stop the dumping of unwanted plastic waste into their country.Read more
Press statement 26 June 2018
The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are pleased that Penang will embark on a ban of plastic straws and other single-use plastic food and drink containers after Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow gave local authorities carte blanche to execute such policies to preserve the environment.
The proposal by the Penang government and local authorities is the way forward as the growing reliance on plastic to meet our culture of convenience is a bane to the state and the planet. In the past, CAP and SAM have observed and received complaints regarding the excessive use of plastic food and drink containers, disposable cutlery, straws, take-out containers in food outlets. This practice not only increases the amount of waste to be disposed but subsequently impacts the environment, economy and public health.
Globally, an average of eight million tons of plastic escapes collection systems, winding up in the environment and eventually the ocean. Hence, it is essential that the single-use, throw away culture end. The best alternative is to replace plastic products with reusable/refillable products.Read more
Plastic pollution has become a serious problem affecting the marine environment. This year’s main action focus of World Oceans Day, celebrated each year on 8 June, is to prevent plastic pollution and encourage solutions for a healthy ocean. Hence, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) calls for elimination of single-use plastics as a first step to beat plastic pollution.
Plastic packaging accounts for about half of the plastic waste in the world. The most common single-use plastics found in the environment are, in order of magnitude, cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straws and stirrers, other types of plastic bags, and foam take-away containers. (The State of Plastics Report 2018 @UNEnvironment)
Much of the plastic produced globally is designed to be thrown away. Up till 2017, an estimated 8,300 million metric tons (Mt) of virgin plastics have been produced. As of 2015, only around 9% had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, it is predicted that roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050 (Geyer et.al).
Press Statement 19 September 2016
The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are part of the newly-launched Break Free from Plastic movement to stem the tide of plastic pollution across the globe.
It is reported that each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean. Estimates suggest that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean today. In a business as usual scenario the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025 and by 2050 more plastic than fish by weight.Read more