What is Yang Laji, the “western rubbish”?

Have you ever wondered where your trash went after putting it in front of your door every week? Well, the sad truth I would like to share with you today will hopefully make you consider lowering your waste drastically. 


Until 2017, most of western countries were sending their waste to China, where they were either recycled, burnt or left out in landfills. However, China said stop to what they call Yang Laji “the western rubbish”. China has been processing half or the world garbage, up to 7.3 million in 2016 (according to recent data). No surprise they decided to stop being "the world’s dump". 


So where are our waste going now? 


Nor very far from China. Malaysia and Indonesia have now become the top countries which accept our trashes. Not only the landfills are destroying their environments and oceans, but also their population health. With this new business opportunity, it did not take long before illegal factories rose in villages. BBC News recently portrayed an activist group in Malaysia which is fighting those illegal factories where rubbishes are being burnt during the night generating toxic, evil-smelling fumes. 


We are conscious of the problems and disastrous consequences of our waste but yet we are not changing our behaviors.


Although the European Union is planning to tax plastic bags/packaging and banning certain plastic-made products we need to change the way we produce, consume and recycle. Did you know that Europe recycles 30% of its plastic (9% for the USA) and that the majority of the 70% left are still ending up in landfills and in the oceans? Western countries are laying down on plastic-importers countries and do not built high quality recycling facilities or invest enough power and money in new approaches to deal with our waste. 


This article has been very pessimistic, but there are ways we can take to diminish our waste and live a more sustainable life. 


Refusing single-use plastics, avoiding packaged goods, shopping in bulk store, going to the local market, applying the 3Rs to our lifestyle (reduce, reuse, recycle); all those are steps we can start taking on a daily basis to make a change and lower our waste. We need to take action at the individual level to boost the governments to take further actions. Let’s not wait until new laws are created, the change starts now.


Our waste has a devastating impact on population and environment in certain countries, but let’s not forget we all live in the same planet and should be grateful and respectful of what it is offering us everyday.


Thank you for reading this article, I hope you learnt something new today and will be inspired to join me in lowering your waste. Let me know what you want to read next and don't forget to follow my Instagram!


Here are the references I used, feel free to check them out for more information: