France agrees to take back 43 illegal waste containers from Malaysia

Clay Curtis
January 20, 2020

The southeast Asian nation previous year became the world's main destination for plastic waste, after a Chinese ban on imports of plastic waste disrupted the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of trash annually.

Malaysia has sent back 150 containers of plastic waste to more than a dozen countries as Kuala Lumpur said it will not become the world's rubbish bin.

An additional 110 containers are in the process of being shipped back, 60 of which originated from the United States, 15 from Canada and 14 from Japan.

Yeo said the successful repatriation of a total of 3,737 tons of waste followed strict enforcement in major Malaysian ports to block smuggling of waste and close more than 200 illegal plastic recycling plants.

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 companies responsible for importing and exporting the waste. The amount returned to China, Japan, Singapore and the four other countries is unknown. "We want to communicate the message that Malaysia is not the dumping site of the world", she told reporters at a press event at Penang Port in the northern state of Penang.

"For now, none of the countries of origin have refused to accept the containers".

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Reuters reported from Paris that Malaysia had shipped 43 illegal plastic waste containers back to France as part of a crackdown on the illegal trafficking of waste.

The exporting countries and shipping lines covered the cost of returning the containers.

The breakdown of the 110 containers and their respective countries of origin are: U.S. (60), Canada (15), Japan (14), Britain (nine), Belgium (eight), and one each from Mexico, Hungary, France and Jamaica.

"People dump their rubbish into your country, we are not supposed to pay them to send it back".

Imports into Malaysia rose steadily from 20,000 tonnes per month at the beginning of 2017 to 110,000 tonnes per month in early-2018.

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