Gangsters aren’t in it for the environment. They’re in it for the money.
Imagine for a moment the world of organized crime in Southeast Asia, and you may picture meth labs, human-trafficking rings, or the billion-dollar trade in endangered species.
But lately law enforcement has noticed the oddest of goods circulating in the underworld: plastic junk such as bottles, candy wrappers and yogurt cups.
Interpol said late last year it’s seen a spike in organized criminal efforts to smuggle recyclable plastic from rich countries into Southeast Asia. It said there’s a growing business in making plastic disappear in dumps and furnaces across the region. While it’s hard to estimate the financial size of this trade, if it’s anything like the illicit market for electronic waste, it could be worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.
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(Story was written by Saqib Rahim, member of the Ocean Journalists Network which includes Environment Africa Magazine)