Malaysia’s Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin announced that the country will be shipping 60 containers with a total of 3,300 tons of plastic trash back to several countries, including the United States and Canada, reported U.S. News.
According to Yin, the waste had been illegally smuggled into the country’s processing facilities.
“These containers were illegally brought into the country under false declaration and other offences which clearly violates our environmental law.”
The environment minister added that the plastic trash, which citizens in developed countries believe is being recycled, is actually being shipped to Asian countries, such as Malaysia.
Malaysia and other developing countries became the target for trash dumping after China banned the import of plastic waste in 2018. According to the news publication, Beijing notified the World Trade Organization in July of 2017 that they would no longer accept plastic trash by 2018.
“We found that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This polluted China’s environment seriously,” the WTO report read.
— Ministry of Waste (@MinistryofWaste) May 28, 2019
In addition to the U.S. and Canada, Malaysian officials announced that they will be shipping containers of trash back to Japan, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and China.
“We are urging developed nations to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping garbage to developing countries. If you ship to Malaysia, we will return it back without mercy.”
The Philippines is another Asian country that is starting to refuse plastic trash importation. Recently, the country declared that they would send 69 containers of trash back to Canada and if the North American country did not accept them, the containers would be left in international waters.
Trash disposal has become a serious environmental issue and many nations have made pledges to address the problem.
Earlier this month at the Basel Convention in Geneva, Switzerland, more than 180 countries pledged to curb plastic pollution, reported U.S. News. Under the agreement, countries will need to monitor where their waste goes when it leaves their borders as well as request government permission to dump their waste in other countries.
Marco Lambertini, the director general of World Wide Fund for Nature, spoke about the issue of waste dumping.
“Wealthy countries have abdicated responsibility for enormous quantities of plastic waste by using the developing world as a dumping ground.”
Not only do developed countries need to assume accountability when it comes to the global plastic waste management system, but they also need to improve the waste management and recycling systems they already have in place.