Zero Waste Maldives calls on President to disallow waste imports

Leading environmental organisations in the country raised concerns about amendments to Waste Management Act (WMA) that allows waste import to The Maldives.

The last-minute amendment in section 44 of the bill was passed by unanimous vote on the 28th of November 2022 by The Maldives People’s Majlis. However, the joint press statement issued Zero Waste Maldives flagged that the amendments had not been reviewed by the attendees as a final copy of the bill had not been shared before the voting day, and also noted the lack of public consultation.

“The waste management bill was submitted to the People’s Majlis by the government on 16 May 2022, which was subsequently sent to the Environment and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) for review on 27 June 2022. The proposed legislation has been in the parliament for the past six months but notably, not a single public consultation was held on this serious national issue.”

The press statement was signed by #SaveMaldives, Transparency Maldives, No Plastic Maldives, #Break Free From Plastic, Uthema, EcoCare Maldives, Save the Beach, The Eco Org, Clean Maldives, VeshiSaafu, LandSea Maldives, Atollscape Maldives, Save Our Waves, and Maldives Resilient Reefs.

Concerns that Maldives will become a garbage dump

The press statement also highlighted concerns that Maldives will meet the same fate as other Asian countries that have had waste imports.

“After China closed its doors to plastic waste imports in 2018, developed countries sharply diverted exports of plastic waste to other Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Many receiving countries lack adequate waste management strategies and facilities, thus plastic waste imports further undermined domestic waste segregation and collection. Evidence also points to an increasing illegal trade in plastic waste which has led to open dumping or burning of waste materials, adversely affecting the health of communities and the environment. Bangun and Tropodo villages in Indonesia are found to be highly contaminated with high levels of hazardous chemicals as a consequence of excessive plastic waste imports.

Communities impacted by the negative impact of plastic waste imports from Asia, Africa and Latin America have called for an end to the practice. Countries have tightened controls in attempts to stem pollution from plastic waste imports, while Thailand plans to phase out all imports by 2025. The European Union (EU) will potentially ban all plastic waste exportsoutside the EU. The world is recognizing that plastic waste exports enable excessive plastic and petrochemical expansion, exacerbating pollution and climate change. For a country vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, it is crucial for Maldives to invest in zero waste solutions that can alleviate the climate crisis.”

Call on President to not ratify the bill 

The press statement called on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to:

1) not to ratify the WMA into law

2) to ensure the above collective concerns are addressed comprehensively with an inclusive and nationwide public consultation on the waste management issue in the Maldives, and

3) to develop clear government policy commitments and assurances that the Maldives will not be turned into a waste dumping ground for foreign contractors, companies, or governments seeking to deal with their insurmountable waste mountains.