These six Asian countries are responsible for 60% of plastic waste in oceans

Unless drastic action is taken, the weight of plastic waste in oceans will outweigh marine fish by mid-century.

China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam account for a staggering 60 percent of an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic waste that is dumped into world's oceans each year, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a report on Monday. The report also says that the amount of plastic waste dumped into the oceans will multiply by four times between 2010 and 2050.

The report says that unless the production and use of single-use plastic are not reduced urgently, the weight of plastic waste in oceans will outweigh marine fish by mid-century, Reuters reported, citing the document. The report said that the six nations together consumed 27 million tonnes of plastic food packaging in 2016. The report says that food packaging forms the bulk of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans.

Plastic pollution
Plastic waste Pixabay

Global exporters dump packaging plastic in Asian countries

And it's not the Chinese that throws most plastic waste into the oceans, the report reveals. Malaysia tops the chart with an annual per-capita plastic packaging consumption of 16.8 kg per person. Malaysia is closely followed by Thailand at 15.5 kg. "There is lots of food delivery, which is plastic packaging-heavy - but in addition, there are also a lot of day-to-day products bought in supermarkets," Thomas Schuldt, WWF's coordinator of work on a plastic circular economy, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

China banned single-use plastic in 2018, resulting in a significant reduction in plastic pollution in the region. However, global exporters of packaging plastic then shifted focus to other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The green group said these countries should introduce regulation to limit single-use plastics.

"Now other countries in Asia are increasing their plastic waste imports, raising environmental concerns about their ability to handle such large volumes of recyclables," the National Geographic said in a report last year.

Malaysia mulls legislation

Meanwhile, the New Straits Times reported on Monday that Malaysia is considering drafting legislation to stop developed nations from exporting plastic wastes into the country. Malaysia is being turned into dumping grounds for non-biodegradable materials, Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majlis said.

"For a long time , China had been the biggest importer of such waste until 2018 but after an amendment to the Basel Convention signed in 1989 in 2018, they too are wary and working to reduce plastic waste and hazardous crossings," she said.

Plastic pollution
Plastic pollution Reuters

The new law will help tackle long-standing issue of plastic pollution and stem the import of plastic waste from developed countries such as Canada, Spain, France, United Kingdom and the United States, the minister added.