Malaysia has resorted to sending back 3,300 tons of non-recyclable waste back to countries like the US, UK and Canda in a move to avoid becoming a dumping ground for rich nations, said Environment minister Yeo Bee Yin.
Yeo said that Malaysia and other developing nations have become new targets after China banned the import of plastic waste last year in an ensuing trade war between the Asian superpower and America.
This resolve follows a similar last week by the Philippines which said that it would ship back dozens of containers of garbage which Filipino officials said were illegally shipped to the country from Canada between 2013-2014.
Yeo said that the 60 containers stacked with contaminated waste were smuggled into the country n route to illegal processing facilities I the nation and will be promptly sent back to the countries of origin.
ten of the containers are due to be shipped back within two weeks, she said, as she showed reporters the waste contents at a port near Kuala Lumpur.
The items on display included contaminated milk cartons from Australia, Compact discs from Bangladesh and household item waste from the US, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and China. Yeo further said that the waste from China appeared to be garbage from France and other European nations that had been rerouted after a ban imposed by China.
In a particularly alarming case, Yeo said that a Uk-based recycling company had exported more than 55,000 tons of plastic waste in about 1000 containers in a span of 2 years.
“This is probably just the tip of the iceberg (due) to the banning of plastic waste by China,” Yeo told a news conference. “Malaysia will not be a dumping ground to the world…we will fight back. Even though we are a small country, we can’t be bullied by developed countries.”
The Malaysian government recently launched a crackdown on illegal recycling facilities that had mushroomed across the country. 150 plants were implicated since this campaign launch last July. Earlier this month, the government showed it meant business when it sent back five containers of waste to Spain.
Yeo said China’s plastic waste ban had “opened up the eyes of the world to see that we have a huge garbage and recycling problem.”
In Port Klang, Yeo said that citizens in rich-foreign nations diligently separate their waste for recycling. But the garbage ended up being dumped in developing nations where they are recycled by illegal plants, causing environmental and health hazards.
“We urge the developed countries to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping the garbage out to the developing countries,” she said, calling such practices “unfair and uncivilized.”
Yeo vowed to take action against Malaysian companies illegally importing used plastic, calling them “traitors to the country’s sustainability.”