China stopped accepting 24 different types of waste imports, including plastic and paper, at the start of 2018 because it said contaminants were polluting its environment.
In the first quarter of 2017, New Zealand exported $1.7 million dollars worth of plastic to China – during the same period this year that fell to $100,000.
But other countries are willing to import the rubbish that China won’t – New Zealand’s exports to Malaysia so far this year are up 500 percent on the same time last year, from $56,000 to $345,000.
Exports to Indonesia have also increased, jumping 150 percent from $320,000 to $812,000. Thailand’s imports from New Zealand have doubled, and Vietnam’s are up 75 percent.
China previously took more than half of the world’s waste exports; prices for plastics have plummeted since the ban came into effect.