Cambodia Ships Back 1600 Tonnes of Plastic Waste to Canada, U.S.

Katie Ramirez
July 19, 2019

About 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste, which was found in 83 shipping containers in Cambodia's main port of Sihanoukville, will be sent back to the U.S. and Canada, a spokesman for the Cambodian Environment Minister said on Wednesday.

The complications began a year ago when China banned foreign plastic waste shipment imports, throwing global recycling into chaos.

Southeastern Asian countries are pushing back on Western rubbish shipments that have been arriving in droves. Developed nations have been left stumped trying to find suitable countries to send their trash to.

A government committee established to look into the matter will investigate how and why the containers ended up in Cambodia, he said.

This is the second time for such a large amount to be found in Cambodia, following the first case in 1998 in which some 3,000 tons of toxic waste were found dumped on the outskirts of Sihanoukville. He added that any company found to be involved in bringing in the waste would be fined and brought to court.

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Transparency International Cambodia executive director Preap Kol, in turn, said on his Facebook page that the shipping containers with plastic rubbish were a "serious insult".

Kun Nhim, director-general of Cambodia's General Department of Customs and Excise, told AP on Wednesday that other countries in the region had also taken action on the issue, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Both countries are major exporters of such waste.

He said the 83 containers, which arrived over a period beginning in October 2018, contained only plastic waste, not toxic materials or radioactive substances.

Indonesia announced this month it was returning dozens of containers full of waste to France and other developed nations while neighbouring Malaysia said in May it was shipping 450 tonnes of imported plastic waste back to the countries that sent it.

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