Malaysia to Ship Plastic Trash Back to the U.S., Other Origin Countries
The country will send roughly 3,300 tons of plastic waste to countries like the U.S., its environment minister announced.
A man scavenges in a garbage dump in Lhokseumawe, Indonesia, in April. Malaysia will be sending 60 containers of waste back to their countries of origin, the country's environmental minister announced Tuesday.Zikri Maulana/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Malaysia plans to send back roughly 3,300 tons of plastic trash to countries like the U.S. and Canada, its environmental minister announced Tuesday.
After China banned the import of plastic waste last year, Malaysia and other developing countries became the destination for much of the world's trash.
Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the country will be sending 60 containers of waste back to their countries of origin. They were discovered while they were being smuggled to illegal processing facilities.
"These containers were illegally brought into the country under false declaration and other offences which clearly violates our environmental law," Yeo said.
Yeo added that many citizens in developed countries were mostly unaware that their trash – which they think is being recycled – is actually being dumped in Malaysia.
"We are urging developed nations to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping garbage to developing countries," she said. "If you ship to Malaysia, we will return it back without mercy."
At least 14 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia and China, will get trash shipped back to them, according to Malaysian officials.
The move makes Malaysia the latest Asian country to start rejecting other nations' trash.
Last week the president of the Philippines said he would send back 69 containers of garbage to Canada to be left in international waters if the country doesn't accept them.
As the world grapples with what to do with its trash, many nations have promised to try to address the problem.
Earlier this month more than 180 countries pledged to meet control measures to curb plastic pollution under the Basel Convention. The U.S. was not one of them.
Items that can't be recycled are usually burnt or put into landfills, contaminating air, dirt and water sources.
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