Malaysia will return 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste to the countries that shipped it, in a refusal to become a dumping ground for the world’s trash. Nine shipping containers at Port Klang, west of Kuala Lumpur, on 28 May 2019 were found to contain mislabeled plastic and non-recyclable waste, including a mixture of household and e-waste.
Yeo Bee Yin, minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change, said that the US, UK, Canada, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Netherlands, and Singapore should expect waste products to be returned.
On April 24, Malaysia launched a joint task force to crack down on the growing problem of illegal plastic waste imports. The authorities have since carried out 10 operations. In 2018, China banned plastic waste imports as part of an initiative to clean up its environment. That move caused a ripple effect through global supply chains, as middlemen sought new destinations for their trash, including Malaysia.
The row over plastic waste imports is also playing out in the Philippines, where Canada recently missed a May 15 deadline to take back tonnes of its garbage. That prompted a diplomatic spat with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, which saw him recall his ambassador to Ottawa.