This past week, the LA Times put out an article discussing criminal groups that are profiting from trafficking plastic waste. They bring up the issue of plastic recycling ending up in the wrong hands, where it is being shipped overseas to be dumped into underdeveloped cities, river ways, and oceans. A report was published by a Swiss researched group, where they found an entire operation in place with recycling groups and organized crime groups who take plastic waste from the US, Europe, and Australia and dump it in South East Asia and Africa. The article read,
“The report draws on interviews with law enforcement authorities around the world, waste regulators and industry insiders. It lays out the tactics that exporters use to skirt international efforts to curb shipments of plastic scrap from wealthier countries to poorer ones, such as hiding behind multiple shell companies and complex shipping routes that make it difficult for receiving countries to send the waste back.”LA TIMES
This is a big problem because the developing countries are in a vulnerable state, where they cannot stop these big companies from dumping their trash on their land. Sadly these companies are getting away with it by taking these ships all around the world, stopping at different countries and dumping plastic waste, so that by the time they get to their final destination, the waste is untraceable. Thankfully, these companies who have been engaging in these illegal shipments, are being brought to justice through being fined. For example, Britains largest recycling company Biffa Waste Services was fined $470,000 in 2019.
It doesn’t stop there, this issue even involves the US, by not having a way to track where our plastic ends up. This can lead to great economic environmental problems, this was said,
“The economic factors driving this trade are not new. It has long been cheaper for cities and towns in the U.S. and Europe to pay exporters to ship their plastic waste somewhere else rather than send it to a landfill or a recycling facility. And once they’ve sold it to a broker, they often don’t know where it ends up.”LA TIMES
Countries need to focus on properly recycling plastic and not letting it go unknown. If this problem continues grow, there might not be a way to fix it. As everyday goes by, more and more plastic is being dumped into our oceans and are killing our Earth. As a country, each person needs to do their part in focusing on proper recycling and making sure it is ending up in the right places.