Hundreds of tonnes of imported plastic waste will be shipped back to where it came from, Malaysia said yesterday, insisting the country did not want to be a global dumping ground.
Around 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), with much of it ending up in landfill or polluting the seas, in what is becoming a growing international crisis.
China had previously taken a large amount of waste for recycling, but abruptly stopped last year, saying it wanted to improve its own environment.
Now Southeast Asian countries that stepped in to plug this gap say they have had enough.
“We urge developed countries to stop shipping garbage to our country,” said Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s minister of energy, technology, science, environment and climate change, adding it was “unfair and uncivilised”.
“We will return it back to the country of origin without any mercy,” she said, after an inspection of several waste-filled containers at Port Klang, the country’s busiest port.