Malaysia has announced it will send back more than 3,700 metric tonnes (4,120 US tons) of plastic to 13 countries including France, the United States, and Canada.
42 containers of ‘unwanted waste’ will also be returned to the UK, and authorities aim to send back another 110 containers by the middle of 2020, Malaysia’s Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin has announced.
The country will also shut down an estimated 200 plastic recycling plants that have been operating illegally.
‘Garbage bin of the world’
“[The] Malaysian government is serious about combating the import of illegal wastes as we do not want to be the garbage bin of the world,” Yeo Bee Yin said.
“The repatriation exercise does not have any cost implication to the government. The costs were either borne by the exporters or by the shipping liners. This is an unprecedented move by Malaysia.”
‘Stop illegal waste’
According to the BBC, a UK Environment Agency spokesman said: “We continue to work with the shipping lines and Malaysian authorities to ensure all waste is brought back as soon as possible.”
He added: “[ The government is] working hard to stop illegal waste exports from leaving our shores in the first place.”
*This article was updated on January 26 to correct the measurement of waste. It previously stated 33,000 metric tonnes