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Japan among biggest sellers of plastic waste to Vietnam

By Hung Le   April 24, 2019 | 07:31 pm PT
Japan among biggest sellers of plastic waste to Vietnam
A Vietnamese man sorts through used plastic bottles at a junkyard in Hanoi on June 4, 2018. Photo by AFP/Nhac Nguyen
The biggest exporters of plastic recyclable waste to Vietnam are Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand, according to environmental organization Greenpeace.

In its latest report it said Vietnam’s waste imports spiked to 100,000 tons per month in mid-2017 before dropping to 7,500 tons in mid-2018, with the main exporters being the U.S., Japan, Germany, and the U.K.

Vietnams plastic waste imports by origin. Source: Greenpeace

Vietnams plastic waste imports by origin. Source: Greenpeace

A report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Greenpeace East Asia said plastic waste imports into Vietnam kept rising until early 2018 as China banned their imports in January 2018.

However, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered a halt last July, saying Vietnam must not become a dumping ground for other countries’ scrap, leaving thousands of containers stuck at ports for months.

After September imports edged up to 16,000 tons a month.

Similar patterns were also seen in Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan, with imports peaking in early 2018 before governments slapped bans and revoked permits to bring their levels down.

Only Indonesia and South Korea did not impose or had unclear waste import restrictions, according to the Greenpeace report, and so were still increasingly buying plastic wastes at the end of 2018.

In March the Vietnamese government announced that all imports of plastic scrap for use as feedstock would cease on December 31, 2024.

Vietnam imported 9.2 million tons of plastic scrap in 2018, up 14 percent from 2017, according to the Vietnam Customs.

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