Plastic pollution – 17,000 tonnes of rubbish dumped in one town.
The town of Jenjarom is an unassuming place. Located in Kuala Langat district of Selangor state, Jenjarom seems like an idyllic place to visit to experience South East Asian culture.
The town has recently become famous for things other than it’s pretty scenes & it’s busy town life. Jenjarom has become a hotbed of plastic pollution for a multitude of reasons, with an estimated 17,000 tonne’s laying throughout Jenjarom.
Shortly following China’s January 2018 ban of all plastic waste imports, around 40 factories in Jenjarom opened up to take up some of the business. These factories weren’t legitimate for the most part, as the majority of the plants were opened by palm oil plantation owners without a permit or license. In a matter of months, Malaysia became one of the world’s biggest plastic importers.
In 2017 alone, China had imported seven million tonnes of plastic waste. Many environmental advocates considered it a huge victory when China finally clamped down. This created an overflow effect, however, as there were still millions of tonnes worth of plastic scrap that needed to be disposed of & exported. With nowhere to go, the majority of plastic waste went to Malaysia.
Many China-based waste management businesses relocated to Jenjarom, most likely due to it’s proximity to Port Klang. This is Malaysia’s largest port, acting as a quick & easy way of importing plastic into the country. Mixed with the town’s predominantly Chinese population, this made Jenjarom an ideal location for these companies to start exporting waste.
The opening of so many plastic processing factories sounds pro-active & productive but the truth is that a lot of the factories that opened would just burn the waste. This would release huge amounts of toxic fumes into the atmosphere polluting the environment, but even worst is the effect it had on the local population.
There were thousands of reports of respiratory illnesses as well as rashes. Local residents would report daily burnings which would fill their homes with a toxic smelling stench that would linger. Some residents would even report coughing up blood clots due to the pollution in the air. There were also huge losses to local industries too, with the local fish & prawn factories practically losing their stock in one summer. The pollution that the plastic had created too hostile of an environment for anything to live in it. These factories were a huge lifeline to the town, providing thousands of jobs for the residents.
33 of the plants closed down leaving more than 17,000 tonnes of the waste. When so many illegal factories operating, the local authorities couldn’t consolidate & handle them. This left a huge amount of waste that is now unaccounted for and is just left to rot.
This incredibly shocking case study is a case and point in the argument for plastic pollution. Pollution is a huge concern and should be across the world but plastic pollution is just another way that we’re slowly killing the environment around us. With the number of alternatives now on the market, there are now so many things we could be used instead of plastic!
We at Wyatt & Ackerman appreciate developments in the packaging sector as it has a huge bearing on what we use as consumers. Packaging is used by everyone on some level, so it’s interesting, to say the least, to see how progressions in the industry will manifest in the consumer market. If you would like to discuss biodegradable option for packaging for your business, speak to our team today. Visit our website on: Food Packaging UK
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This post was written by Sarah Wirth