Asia Minute: Rejecting Exports of Plastic Trash

Nov 26, 2019

Britain is about to take back more than three-dozen container loads of plastic trash from Malaysia. It’s the latest case of a Southeast Asian nation sending garbage back to where it came from.

For most of this year, authorities in Malaysia have been trying to return an import they no longer want: trash from other countries.

A joint statement from the governments of Britain and Malaysia Monday said 42 containers of plastic waste will be heading back to the United Kingdom. The shipments arrived at the port of Penang between March 2018 and March of this year, but did not have the proper paperwork.

Reuters reports Malaysia is holding more than 300 containers of plastic trash at Penang — and the countries of origin have agreed to take back about two-thirds of them.

Malaysia’s Environment Minister said she hopes the agreement with Britain will “set an example for other countries.” Adding that it shows that, “plastic pollution is a global issue which requires commitment from various countries to address the problem.”

Earlier this year, Malaysian officials named more than a dozen countries which have illegally sent trash to Malaysia – including the United States, Japan, France, Canada and Australia.

This is the latest case of governments in Southeast Asia acting against countries which have shipped waste to the region, especially contaminated plastic which is not recyclable, and often winds up in landfills or incinerators.

Other governments which have recently sent back shipments of trash include the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.