Last week two Kenyan activists wrote on the blog about how waste laws in Kenya are under threat from a new trade deal. The country has some of the most robust bans on single use plastics, and this is of course a threat to the plastics industry. Lobbyists in the US are trying to use the trade deal to kick those new restrictions down and sell more plastic.
Another story from recent days is Sri Lanka sending back 21 containers of waste that Britain had shipped to the country. Mislabelled and full of contaminated waste, the containers have been sitting in warehouses in Sri Lanka since 2018. It follows a similar story in Malaysia, which sent back 42 containers of waste earlier this year. We have been treating other countries like bins, far away places where we can dump the crap we’re too lazy to deal with ourselves.
These are just two stories from what has become a global struggle to contain the waste of consumerism. It includes plastic burning, ocean plastics, the injustices of the waste trade, and much else besides. Those who profit from this are the same people who are most reponsible for climate change, and in time the fossil fuel industry will be come to be seen as one of the great evils of history.
I have a lot more to write about all of this, but for today, I wanted to mention one small step you might want to consider, and that’s to twin your bin. Bin Twinning is a new initiative that invites households to twin their trash can with a small business dealing with waste in a developing country.
It’s a fundraising gimmick to a certain extent, but what I like about it is that it visibly connects waste here and in other countries. When you twin your bin, you get a sticker to put on it. Mine says that my bin is twinned with a plastics recycling company in Uganda. This is a reminder of our global responsibilities, as well as a way of supporting others.
Bin Twinning is explicit about this. While supporting social enterprises in the waste sector, “it will also encourage people in the UK to cut down their own waste, not least because the waste crisis in developing countries is made worse by importing waste from developed nations.”
Twinning your bin won’t stop the scandal of the global waste trade, but it will support those making a difference, and it might help you to think about it more often too. You can twin your bin, and read more about how it works, at bintwinning.org.