Malaysia as a country has sent back 150 containers of plastic waste to 13 mainly rich countries since the third quarter last year, with the environment minister warning on Monday that those who want to make the country a rubbish bin of the world can “dream on.”
Shipments of unwanted rubbish have been rerouted to Southeast Asia since China banned the import of plastic waste in 2018, but Malaysia and other developing countries are fighting back.
Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said another 110 containers are expected to be sent back by the middle of this year.
Yeo said the successful repatriation of a total 3,737 metric tonnes (4,120 U.S. tons) of waste followed strict enforcement at key Malaysian ports to block smuggling of waste and shuttering more than 200 illegal plastic recycling factories.
She said the Malaysian government didn’t pay a single cent, with the costs of sending back the waste fully borne by the shipping liners and importers.
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.
Yeo said talks were ongoing with U.S. authorities to take back another 60 containers this year. Canada also has 15 more containers, Japan 14, the U.K. 9 and Belgium 8 from 110 more containers that are still being held at Malaysian ports, she said.
“If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you dream on,” Yeo told reporters during an inspection at a Penang port.