Leading plastic waste importers worldwide 2018

Between January and November 2018, Malaysia was the leading nation to import plastic waste worldwide. Its shares of imports were twice that of Thailand's, which was ranked second with 5.5 percent.

Developing Asian nations are typically the biggest importers of plastic waste, which usually comes from industrialized nations. Although the United States was one of the top importers of plastic waste in 2018, it was also the biggest exporter.

In previous years China was the main export destination. However, in 2018 the country introduced much stricter standards, only accepting plastic waste with less than 0.5 percent contamination by non-recyclable materials. Due to these restrictions, exports of plastic waste to China have effectively stopped altogether, which has in turn caused huge problems in nations such as the UK. Other nations such as Cambodia and Indonesia have also begun sending back waste exported by developed nations, insisting they are no longer a dustbin for foreign countries.

Distribution of plastic waste imports worldwide by country between January and November 2018

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Release date

November 2019



Survey time period

January to November 2018

Supplementary notes

* The source indicates that shipments to Hong Kong are high due to it being a transshipment point for global waste.

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Statistics on "Plastic waste in the UK"

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