How mountains of U.S. plastic waste ended up in Malaysia, broken down by workers for $10 a day

In a derelict warehouse complex plastered with “For Rent” signs an hour from the Malaysian capital, four women squatted on upturned buckets. Their fingernails were cracked and nubby, their headscarves dampened with sweat.

Wielding hair dryers, they heated and peeled labels from a waist-high pile of discarded plastic electric meters. The stickers affixed to each of the plastic round gray casings bore the sun-like logo of a faraway power company: the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

How scrap from California ended up in a junkyard 8,500 miles away, broken down manually by workers earning $10 a day, is the story of the reshaping of the global garbage and recycling system.

For three decades the United States and other industrialized nations have shipped most of their plastic waste overseas — primarily to China, where cheap labor and voracious factories dismantled the scrap and turned it into new plastic goods.

Read the entire article at LAtimes.com