Malaysia sends back 42 containers of 'illegal' plastic waste to UK
Malaysia said that a total of a total of 3,737 metric tonnes of unwanted waste had been sent back to 13 countries
The Malaysian Minister of Environment Yeo Bee Yin has announced that the country has returned 42 shipping containers containing illegally imported plastic waste to the United Kingdom (UK).
The minister added that Malaysia would take steps to ensure the country does not become the garbage dump of the world, reports the BBC.
She also added that Malaysia had sent back 150 containers to their country of origin.
The country has seen a sharp rise in foreign plastic waste since China - once the world's largest importer, announced a ban in 2017.
The UK government said it received a request from the Malaysian authorities last year to repatriate the waste and some containers had already arrived back.
"We continue to work with the shipping lines and Malaysian authorities to ensure all waste is brought back as soon as possible," said an Environment Agency spokesman.
He added that the government was also "working hard to stop illegal waste exports from leaving our shores in the first place."
Malaysia said that a total of a total of 3,737 metric tonnes of unwanted waste had been sent back to 13 countries, including 43 containers to France, 42 to the UK, 17 to the United States, and 11 to Canada.
The authorities hope to send back another 110 containers by the middle of 2020 - with 60 of those going to the US.
Many wealthy countries send their recyclable waste overseas because it is cheap, helps meet recycling targets and reduces domestic landfill.
The European Union is the largest exporter of plastic waste, with the US leading as the top exporter for a single country.
A growing number of countries across South East Asia, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, have returned unwanted waste over the last 12 months.
Malaysia previously singled out the UK for its plastic waste.
"What the citizens of the UK believe they send for recycling is actually dumped in our country," said the Malaysian Environment Minister in that regard.
The UK Environment Agency said the returned waste was the responsibility of the private companies that exported it, and those must be handled according to UK regulations.
The agency spokesman added that anyone found guilty of exporting waste illegally could face a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine.