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Waste is one of the main by-products of human activity. As individuals, humans produce biological waste, waste from our households, waste from items we consume etc. But this dwarfs in comparison to the massive amounts of waste produced by our industries. Each day, millions of tons of waste is generated worldwide from our production activities. The sheer volume of waste produced creates a waste problem that requires immediate attention from the governments of countries that produce this waste. As industry is the largest producer of this waste, and since developed countries are more likely to be engaged in large scale industrial activities, it follows that developed nations would be producing most of this waste. Various factors such as the legislation and labour costs in developed countries make dealing with this waste incredibly expensive. Therefore, they instead sell this waste to developing nations who ostensibly recycle the waste. This allows developed nations to boast high sustainability targets and impose these restrictions on developing countries while sending their waste to them. This is the Global Waste Trade.

For those living in developed countries, municipals regularly carry away their waste from the neighbourhood. Even for smaller commercial complexes, their waste can be handled by cleaning services such as Commercial Cleaning Perth. Waste is not a concern to the average citizen. Similarly, waste companies consolidate waste collection from regular households to large industries in order to dispose of the waste. While processing the waste in a country with stricter laws and more scrutiny is expensive, it can be shipped off to the developing world to be processed. While importing plastic waste and recycling it can lucrative, it is even more lucrative to simply skip the treating and recycling and dump it in a landfill or incinerate it. Burning plastics releases toxic gases into the air, which can cause respiratory issues, acid rain and other similar issues, and waste in landfills can leak out harmful chemicals and heavy metals into the groundwater and surrounding soil. This can lead to a wide array of problems if ingested including birth defects, stunted growth, and even death. Developing nations are a prime target for this as most developing nations have high levels of corruption, and insufficient legislature to manage this issue.

Although the immediate effects of the mismanagement of waste is borne by the locals in these countries, the wider reaching consequences will be felt by the entire planet. The plastics being burned in such a scale releases a massive amount of carbon dioxide, nitrates and other gases into the air which will spread throughout the world, damage the ozone layer etc. It would also contribute to climate change due to the released heat and damage marine life when the waste is dumped into the ocean.

Critics of the global waste trade push for enhanced legislation in countries that would regulate this practice, allowing developing nations to keep recycling waste but with proper oversight that does not penalise their citizens who had no hand in and do not benefit from the waste generation at all.

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