The fight to promote greater bottle reuse is now taking many forms, from better public access to refilling to schools and businesses abandoning single-use cups. Perhaps one of the more significant recent developments though, has occurred with relatively little fanfare.
In an unprecedented move against global plastic pollution, Malaysia has announced that it will eliminate single-use plastic by 2030.
The significance of this announcement should not be underestimated, either in itself or as a precursor to others following suit, since Malaysia is no ordinary player on the global scene.
In fact, Malaysia is the world’s eighth biggest plastic polluter.
- In 2010, the country produced almost one million tonnes of plastic waste that was either not recycled or properly disposed of.
- To add insult to injury the country has subsequently become a major importer of plastic waste- the waste that countries like the UK are either too blasé or inefficient to sort or eliminate ourselves
- In the first quarter this year, Malaysia imported 185,000 tonnes of waste plastics from Europe, four times that of the previous year which was before China closed its doors on our waste.
It seems Malaysia though has no intentions of becoming the rubbish tip of South East Asia. This summer German waste plastics exporters reported that the country was no longer accepting shipments.
As these doors close, it’s increasingly clear that our own landfill system is incapable of withstanding the plastic waste that we generate. The answer? Legislation which eliminates single-use plastic at source, as Malaysia seeks to do.
For all the beach cleans, for all the reusable bottles, cups and refill stations, indeed for all the Blue Planets, ultimately nothing will hit the scourge of single use plastic than for companies to stop making them, because they are no longer allowed to do so.