Staggering photos show one small town covered in 19,000 tons of plastic waste
Lai Seng Sin/Reuters
- A small town in Malaysia is teeming with nearly 19,000 tons of plastic waste.
- Ever since China banned the import of plastic in 2017, Malaysia has seen an influx of garbage.
- Many illegal factories have taken to burning the scraps, releasing noxious fumes that could threaten human health.
Last summer, a small town in Malaysia grew accustomed to the smell of burning plastic. At night, the putrid scent would waft into homes in Jenjarom, a community of around 30,000 residents.
Today, the fumes have mostly dissipated, but their source - nearly 19,000 tons of waste piled in high heaps - is still around.
After China banned the import of plastic in 2017, Malaysia began buying discarded plastic from China's former exporters, including the US, UK, and Australia. Illegal recycling factories in Jenjarom quickly seized the opportunity to get rid of the waste, with many of them either burying or burning scraps.
More than 30 of these factories were recently shut down, but their piles of plastic have transformed the town into a giant landfill. Here's what it looks like on the ground.