Moreover, many Asian companies are among the biggest SUP waste contributors globally, most prominently Sinopec, Indorama Ventures, and PetroChina. In addition, the region also accounted for almost half of all mismanaged plastic waste during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asia as a major destination of the global waste tradeApart from local waste generation, many developing countries in South and Southeast Asia are also major importers of plastic waste from Europe and the United States. Alongside Indonesia and Vietnam, Malaysia in particular is among the leading waste destinations in the world. In recent years, the country has received over 300 thousand metric tons of plastic waste exports by the European Union. The three ASEAN countries are also leading destinations for plastic waste exports from the U.S., alongside Southeast Asian neighbor Thailand and Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India.
Until 2017, China was the main destination for global plastic waste exports and played a significant role in processing hard-to-recycle plastics. However, the country enacted an import ban on several waste types, including plastics, in early 2018. The following restructuring of the global waste trade has put more pressure on South and Southeast Asia’s developing countries and their waste management infrastructures.
Waste mismanagement is hindering a more circular economyInadequate waste collection and processing infrastructures are the main drivers of plastic pollution in many APAC countries. Paired with a lack of consumer awareness towards recycling, these circumstances hinder a more circular economy in the region. Recycling makes up a small share of waste disposal methods in APAC, while more environmentally harmful practices such as incineration or open dumps are used more frequently.
According to projections, the Asia-Pacific region will be responsible for over 70 percent of global mismanaged plastic waste by 2025. A considerable share of this waste gets dumped in the ocean, with experts naming several Asian countries as the most significant contributors to the Great Pacific garbage patch. However, some countries have introduced policies promoting a more circular waste economy, aiming to reduce SUP products, and facilitating recycling and reuse, one example being the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK-12) for 2021 to 2025.