Malaysia sent 4,120 tons of plastic trash back to 13 rich countries, saying it refuses to be the 'rubbish dump of the world'
- Malaysia says it returned 4,120 tons of plastic trash to 13 affluent nations in late 2019.
- Forty-three containers full of trash were returned to France, 42 to the UK, 17 to the US, and 11 to Canada.
- "If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you dream on," Yeo Bee Yin, the environment minister, said on Monday.
- Malaysia is buckling under the amount of trash exported there by affluent nations, especially those in the European Union.
- Western countries have long shipped their trash to less wealthy Asian countries as they lack stringent environmental regulations.
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"The government will continue to fight cross-border pollution," she said.At a Monday press conference, Yeo added that there are a further 100 containers currently in Malaysian ports waiting to be sent back, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Sixty of them will be returned to the US, pending negotiations with officials, as well as 15 to Canada, 14 to Japan, and nine to the UK.The move aims to counter the practice of smuggling trash to Malaysia, where they are taken to illegal plastic recycling facilities, the AP reported. These facilities release highly toxic fumes and causes respiratory illnesses and water-contamination issues.Two hundred such facilities in Malaysia were shut down late last year, Yeo said.
The country also launched a joint task force to tackle the issue of illegal waste imports in April 2019, CNN reported.
"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."
The issue is far broader than just Malaysia. Wealthier Western countries have long shipped trash to Asia, notably China and the Philippines, as they lack stringent environmental regulations, as Business Insider's Alexandra Ma previously reported.It is difficult to track exactly how the global waste trade works but, broadly, Western companies are prepared to pay to dispose of trash, and companies in poorer nations have been accepting the contracts.
Yeo said Monday the cost of repatriating the trash was, and will be, covered entirely by the countries of origin and the shipping liners.In May 2019, Yeo urged western states to tackle the issue of illegal trash exportation, following an investigation by Greenpeace that found Malaysia was "overwhelmed" and "cannot accommodate the waste in a way that is sustainable."
"We urge the developed countries to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping garbage to developing countries," Yeo said at the time.That same month over 180 countries signed off on an amendment, adding controls to the flow of trash between national borders, to the Basel Convention. The US did not sign the agreement.
MALAYSIA TELAH MENGHANTAR PULANG 150 KONTENA SISA PLASTIK DENGAN ANGGARAN 3,737 METRIK TAN KE NEGARA PENGEKSPORT TANPA SEBARANG KOS- Yeo Bee Yin (@yeobeeyin) January 20, 2020
Kerajaan tegas akan terus memerangi pencemaran rentas sempadan pic.twitter.com/h09e9zGqls
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