PENANG, Malaysia – Malaysia has returned 150 containers of plastic waste to 13 major rich countries since the third quarter of last year, with the environment minister warning on Monday that those who want to turn the country into the world’s garbage can “dream.”
Unauthorized waste shipments have been sent to Southeast Asia since China banned plastic waste imports in 2018, but Malaysia and other developing countries are fighting back.
Environment Minister Yeo Bei Yin said 110 more containers are expected to be returned by the middle of this year.
Yao said the successful repatriation of a total of 3,737 metric tons (4,120 US tons) of waste came after strict enforcement to stop waste smuggling to Malaysia’s main ports and close more than 200 illegal plastic recycling factories.
Of the 150 containers, 43 were returned to France, 42 to the United Kingdom, 16 to the United States, 11 to Canada, 10 to Spain and the rest to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Portugal, China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Lithuania, his ministry said.
He said the shipping liners and the companies responsible for importing and exporting waste were fully borne by the Malaysian government.
Yeo said talks are under way with U.S. authorities to recall another 60 containers this year. He said there were 15 more containers in Canada, 14 in Japan, nine in the United Kingdom and eight out of 110 more containers in Belgium and eight in Malaysian ports.
“If people want to see our world as a pile of rubbish, you dream,” Yeo told reporters during a visit to a port in the northern state of Penang.
Yeo says the government will launch an action plan next month on illegal plastic imports that will help various agencies.
“Our position is very strong. We just want to send (the waste) back and we just want to send a message that Malaysia is not a dumping site in the world, “he added.
The Associated Press