For the last couple of months, Southeast Asian countries have been standing up to the bigger nations of the West.
It looked like the world was finally waking up to the realities of plastic waste and pollution.
Then, Bloomberg – a US-based media company- tweeted an article titled ‘How to Solve the Plastic Crisis’, accompanied by a caption that names Malaysia as one of the top contributors for 63.6% of ocean trash.
The opinion piece by Adam Minter, who’s spent two decades covering the global recycling industry, states that just 8 countries in Asia are responsible for around 63% of total plastic waste flowing into the oceans.
He also states that the junk is “almost solely generated by Asia’s newly minted consumer classes”.
Then, he offers a solution of improving trash collection, citing a study by the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment that states boosting trash collection rates to 80% in just 5 Asian countries — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — could reduce ocean plastic waste by 23% over a decade.
The article did NOT sit well with the internet.
The original tweet by Bloomberg was inundated with a flurry of responses that highlight waste dumping by Western nations in Southeast Asia.
Funny coincidence: these eight countries are where the US and Europe send their trash. https://t.co/BpUT0hg8qz— Shailja Patel (@shailjapatel) July 14, 2019
https://t.co/D6lKhpUpGt you know the truth will come out.— Benben (@FluffyRipple) July 14, 2019
Headline a little misleading. Western countries export most of their plastic to said countries.— 🕗ontheup🕟 (@pjb2go) July 14, 2019
Let’s be honest in who’s rubbish it actually is!
‘Here’s how we can help them’ really gives an insidious colonialist and patronizing tone to this whole racist lie— Grouchy Gracchus (@GracchusGrouchy) July 15, 2019
STOP THIS RIGHT NOWhttps://t.co/586FFdLThd— Shailja Patel (@shailjapatel) July 14, 2019
However, there were also replies that attempted to clarify the article, saying that the main message of the article was to highlight how the lack of proper waste management leads to trash flow from land into the ocean.
The trash going into the ocean from China, India, Indonesia etc. is not trash imported for recycling. It’s trash from domestic consumption that goes into the ocean because of lack of waste management.— Lauri Myllyvirta (@laurimyllyvirta) July 14, 2019
The waste import issue you raise is a problem but a separate one.
The basis of Adam’s article seems to be a 2015 report by scientists that estimated how much land-based mismanaged plastic waste was entering the ocean.