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.
In 2017, China banned the import of "foreign garbage," a category that includes 24 types of recyclable and solid waste.
Other countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Malaysia, have started buying up some of the recycling exports that had previously gone to China.
With China's ban now in place, some cities in Malaysia are overrun with the world's plastic waste.
Recognizing that there was money to be made from Malaysia's burgeoning plastic industry, locals in Jenjarom established illegal recycling factories throughout town.
Jenjarom is located about 15 miles southeast of Malaysia's main port, Port Klang. The town's proximity to Port Klang made it a prime dumping ground for items that entered through the port.
Instead of handing over un-recyclable scraps and parts to waste centers, the illegal factories cut costs by burning those scraps, releasing noxious fumes.
Local residents have said they started to become ill around the same time that the garbage piles arrived.
A single site near a palm oil plantation in Jenjarom contains 4,400 tons of waste.
The piles of trash are a problem throughout this region of Malaysia. In October, a worker in Pulau Indah told Reuters there were at least eight illegal factories in the island district.
In July, the nation's housing authority investigated 114 permitted factories and found that only eight met their requirements.