UK plastic waste imports to Taiwan increase ten-fold

Taiwan is the 8th largest processor of UK plastic waste

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The final destination of UK plastic shifts from China to Southeast Asian nations. (Image from Max Pixel)

The final destination of UK plastic shifts from China to Southeast Asian nations. (Image from Max Pixel)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The amount of plastic trash exported from the UK to Taiwan between January and April of this year has increased ten-fold compared to this period last year.

As a result of China significantly limiting the amount of international waste imports, the amount of plastic waste imported around Southeast Asian countries has increased dramatically, according to a Financial Times report.

Whereas China imported 7.3 million tons of plastic waste in 2016, equal to half of the world's overall plastic waste recycling, the country has banned 24 kinds of waste products as of this year, essentially closing the nation off to foreign waste processing.

The UK does not house enough recycling facilities domestically and must outsources a large amount of its recycling and waste management. The latest data from HM Revenue and Customs shows that Malaysia is now the leading destination of plastic waste from the UK, and

"Exports to Thailand rose fifty-fold in the four-month period, while those to Taiwan rose more than ten-fold."

The top ten countries to process UK plastic waste from January to April this year were:

1. Malaysia

2. Indonesia

3. Netherlands

4. Vietnam

5. Hong Kong

6. Poland

7. India

8. Taiwan

9. Thailand

10. Belgium

Environmental activists however caution that plastic waste imported to Southeast Asian countries has a higher chance of becoming ocean litter than if it were managed in the UK, according to the Financial Times.