‘Creative waste brokers’: West ‘must not exploit’ poorer countries to dump its trash


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The West must stop dumping its trash on developing countries in Asia, an environmental activist told RT, after a UK firm was found guilty of trying to ship household waste with a ‘vomit-like’ smell to China.

“These very talented, creative waste brokers are trying to find the path of least resistance whenever there are less restrictions or where they see an opening with less regulation – they take advantage of it,” Von Hernandez, coordinator for the Break Free from Plastic movement, told RT. The issue came to the forefront after Buckinghamshire waste management giant Biffa was found guilty of trying to export unsorted household waste to China, which has been illegal since 2006. Biffa “strongly contested” the decision.

The seven 25-tonne containers had glass, plastics, metals, and electrical items. Household items such as umbrellas, socks, unused condoms, and dirty diapers were also unearthed in the shipment marked as ‘mixed paper’.

“The industrial countries, which are the source of this waste, need to exercise greater responsibility making sure that such shipments do not take place and do not exploit poorer environmental conditions or regulations in the global south,” Hernandez said.

After China closed its doors to the world’s garbage, Western corporations, which lack their own waste recycling capacities, turned to other Asian markets. As a result, tons of trash from the US, Europe, and Australia ended up going to Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, forcing these countries to seek countermeasures to protect their environment, and even send some of the solid waste back to the country of origin.

We have seen once clean agricultural areas being transformed into dumping grounds.