Malaysia is sending waste back, saying it will not be the world’s waste bin

PENANG, Malaysia – Malaysia has sent 150 containers of plastic waste back to 13 mainly rich countries since the third quarter of last year, with the environment minister warning on Monday that those who want to make the country a waste bin in the world can “dream on. “

Shipments of unwanted waste have been diverted to Southeast Asia since China banned the import of plastic waste in 2018, but Malaysia and other developing countries are fighting back.

Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said another 110 containers are expected to be shipped back by the middle of this year.

Yeo said the successful repatriation of a total of 3,737 tonnes (4,120 US tonnes) of waste followed strict enforcement in key Malaysian ports to block waste smuggling and close more than 200 illegal plastic recycling plants.

Of the 150 containers, 43 were returned to France, 42 to the UK, 17 to the US, 11 to Canada, 10 to Spain and the rest to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Portugal, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Lithuania, her ministry said.

She said the Malaysian government did not pay a single cent and the cost of sending the waste back is fully borne by the shipping companies and companies responsible for importing and exporting the waste.

Yeo said negotiations were underway with U.S. authorities to take another 60 containers back this year. Canada also has 15 more containers, Japan 14, the UK 9 and Belgium 8 out of 110 more containers still held in Malaysian ports, she said.

“If people want to see us as the world’s landfill, you’re dreaming on,” Yeo told reporters during an inspection at a port in northern Penang state.

Yeo said the government will launch an action plan on illegal plastic imports next month, which will help the various agencies coordinate enforcement and speed up the process of returning waste.

“Our position is very firm. We just want to send (the waste) back and we just want to give a message that Malaysia is not the dumping ground of the world,” she added.

Associated Press

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