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Malaysians are region's biggest consumers of plastic packaging: WWF

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KUALA LUMPUR : An analysis of Asia's worst ocean polluters shows Malaysians are the biggest individual consumers of plastic packaging, green group WWF said yesterday, urging the government to limit single-use plastics and work with companies to fund a recycling push.

The WWF report looked at China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam - which contribute 60 per cent of the estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic that enter the world's oceans each year.

It focused on household consumption of plastic packaging - the plastic most likely to end up in seas - and found that 27 million tonnes were consumed across all six nations in 2016, the most recent year for which reliable data was available.

Malaysia ranked highest among the six countries analysed in terms of annual per-capita plastic packaging consumption, at about 16.8kg per person, followed by Thailand at 15.5kg.

Mr Thomas Schuldt, WWF's coordinator of work on a plastic circular economy, said Malaysians consumed the most plastic because they were among the wealthiest.

"There is lots of food delivery, which is plastic packaging-heavy, but in addition, there are also a lot of day-to-day products bought in supermarkets," the Kuala Lumpur-based Mr Schuldt said.

In many parts of Asia, garbage collection services and infrastructure have largely failed to keep pace with rapid development. These factors have created a "perfect storm" for waste leaking into the surrounding seas, conservation experts say.

In addition, after China banned plastic-waste imports at the start of 2018, top exporters like the United States and European nations started shipping to other Asian countries.- REUTERS