Thailand has begun restricting plastic waste imports and will ban scrap shipments of the material starting in 2025, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
The decision approved by the cabinet comes as officials seek to halt a flood of waste from rich countries that has affected the health of citizens and polluted the country’s air and water.
From this year, plastic waste imports will be restricted to 14 manufacturers located in free trade zones that use the scrap as raw materials, the government said in a statement on Tuesday after the cabinet approved the policy.
Imports will be cut by half next year, although exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis, a government spokeswoman said.
Plastic that enters recycling programmes in rich Western countries often gets shipped by brokers to poorer nations where it enters a vast ecosystem of recycling plants with varying degrees of technology and capability.
In any event, only higher-quality materials generally can be recycled profitably. Other items are often incinerated or dumped in landfills.
Countries in the Global South have born the brunt of the world’s plastic pollution, a worldwide menace that now directly threatens marine life and food and water systems.
China started banning plastic waste imports in 2018, which led to a surge in imports to other countries, including those in Southeast Asia.
Thailand generates about 2 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which only about a quarter is recycled, according to the government. Most of it is used only once.
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