Malaysia refuses to become the plastic ‘rubbish dump of the world’

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Malaysia has sent back 150 containers of plastic waste to more than a dozen countries as Kuala Lumpur said it will not become the world’s rubbish bin.

The country has seen an increase in the number of shipments containing waste since China prohibited imports of refuse in 2018.

Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the 150 containers have been sent back since the third quarter of last year and a further 110 are expected to be returned by mid-2020.

“If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you dream on,” Yeo told reporters during an inspection at a port in northern Penang state.

Yeo said the successful repatriation of a total 3,737 metric tonnes of waste followed strict enforcement at key Malaysian ports to block smuggling of waste and the closing down of more than 200 illegal plastic recycling factories.

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Of the 150 containers, 43 were returned to France, 42 to the United Kingdom, 17 to the United States, 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 government will launch an action plan on illegal plastic importation next month that will help the different agencies coordinate enforcement and speed up the process of returning the waste.

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

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