Thailand to ban plastic waste imports from 2025 to cut pollution
Thailand is restricting plastic waste imports and will ban scrap shipments of the material starting in 2025, as officials seek to halt a flood of refuse from rich countries that has impacted the health of its citizens and polluted its air and water.
From this year, plastic waste imports will be restricted to 14 manufacturers located in Thailand’s free trade zone that use the scraps as raw materials, the government said in a statement after the cabinet approved the policy.
Inflows will be cut by half next year, although exceptions may be made on a case by case basis, a government spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Plastic that enters recycling programs in rich Western countries often gets shipped by brokers to poorer nations where it enters a vast ecosystem of recycling plants with only higher quality materials generally recycled profitably. Other items are often incinerated or dumped in landfills.
Countries in the Global South have born the brunt of the world’s plastic pollution, a worldwide menace that now directly threatens marine life and food and water systems. China started banning plastic waste imports in 2018.
Thailand generates about 2 million metric tons of plastic waste annually, of which only about a quarter is recycled, according to the government. Most of that is used only once.