Malaysia blacklists imports of non-recyclable plastic waste

Malaysia is banning all imports of non-recyclable plastic waste from overseas - and New Zealand is one of those currently sending millions of kilograms of plastic waste to the southeast Asian country every year.

Now there's a warning that this needs to be taken as a wake-up call.

"There's some pain around this now, but I think it's a wake-up call for our society that we actually need to fundamentally look at the way we purchase products, what we purchase, how we consume," WasteMINZ chief executive Paul Evans told Newshub.

New Zealanders send more than 250,000 tonnes of plastic waste to local landfills every 12 months.

Much of what's left over is exported offshore, but there are now fewer and fewer countries wanting to deal with our rubbish problem.

"Over the last year we have seen that things are not as rosey as we'd like," Mr Evans said.

Malaysians are sick of the toxic waste. A lot of it is sent to unlicensed plastic recycling factories near the capital of Kuala Lumpur.

From there much is dumped on agricultural land, near water sources or simply burned in large piles.

Environmental advocate Tan Chenin said the pungent smell makes it hard for locals to sleep at night.

"People are more and more worried about how these factories threaten our health."

Local politicians are done with the country being used as the world's dump.

"Companies need to remove the waste from their countries to countries where the policies are more easy to manipulate, where the regulation is less stiff and where enforcement is very weak, and I think this is a problem that a developing country like Malaysia faces," Charles Santiago, a Democratic Action Party (DAP) Member of Parliament said.

If there's no change to New Zealander's consumption habits, experts say our rubbish will likely be pushed to the shores of other developing countries in Asia.