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Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand Receive Bulk of Illegal Waste Shipments from Europe

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Illegal trade in waste (or waste trafficking) is a type crime that affects the environment and is a growing problem across the world. Once it reaches destination countries, illegal waste often ends up in illegal landfills and illegal storage sites or is burnt in the open, causing harm to the environment and human health, undermining the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the transition toward a circular economy.


Illegal waste flows are often hidden behind controlled or legal transboundary movements. The boundaries between the licit and illicit activities in the trafficking of waste can be thin, and the activities, actors and modus operandi involved often overlap and fuel each other.

Mapping of waste flows, better knowledge of the modus operandi of waste trafficking networks as well as national, regional, and inter-regional cooperation are essential in tackling waste trafficking.


Since 2018, countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam have become the top regional destinations for the inflow of both legal and illegal waste. Despite existing national and international legal frameworks, the existence of waste trade bans, and the restrictions put in place by regional governments in recent years, problematic waste is still reaching these countries.










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