'We will return it without mercy': Malaysia gets tough on waste exports

Energy Science Technology Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin stands in front of a container with plastic waste in Port Klang

The ongoing investigation uncovered a United Kingdom -based recycling firm that has exported more than 50,000 tons of plastic scrap in 1,000 containers to Malaysia over the past two years.

A country that has taken in increasing volumes of scrap material will return dozens of containers to their countries of origin, including the US and Canada.

In Port Klang, Yeo said citizens in rich nations diligently separate their waste for recycling, but the garbage ended up being dumped in developing nations where they are recycled illegally, causing environmental and health hazards, she said.

Yeo said the process of inspecting the waste was both laborious and costly.

"Since July previous year, the DoE has conducted massive crackdowns on the influx of imported contaminated plastic waste, acting against illegal and non-compliant plastic processing factories".

Earlier this month, they also sent back five containers of waste to Spain.

Officials in Malaysia have identified at least 14 origin countries, including the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain, for its unwanted waste, Reuters reported. World leaders came together previous year to add plastic, but the US didn't sign off on that.

It is imperative that the government is firm in is position that developing countries do not have an obligation to handle plastic waste from developed countries.

"Garbage is traded under the pretext of recycling".

Between January and July 2018, Malaysia took 745,000 tonnes of plastic.

She urged developed countries to review the management of their plastic waste and to stop using developing countries as dumpsites for their garbage.

But on Tuesday, Yeo said Malaysia had become a "dumping ground" for rubbish that was harming its environment.

"If you ship to Malaysia, we will return it back without mercy".

And the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (Mestecc) has a strong message for the "traitors" responsible for the waste coming into the country. He said the final solution is to ban imports of all kinds of plastic.

At the current rate, by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish, according to the World Economic Forum. The trade was the subject of an global vote just a few weeks ago in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 10 this year. It is a treaty regulating the shipping of hazardous materials from country to country.

Plastics that are not contaminated and which can be recycled without further processing do not need prior informed consent.

Do you know where your family's rubbish goes? This disrupted the outflow of over 7 million tons of trash a year.

Plastics in the urban environment clog drains, leading to localized flooding. Larger plastics can be mistaken as sources of food - for instance, turtles eat white translucent plastic bags floating in the ocean.

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