Malaysia to return 3000 tonnes of illegally exported plastic waste

The Malaysian Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change (MESTECC), has announced it will be shipping back 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste contained in ten containers, while running an inspection process on more than 50 containers that were brought to the country illegally.

A total of 3000 tonnes of plastic waste from 60 containers are expected to be shipped back once the containers are fully inspected.

The ten containers to be shipped back originate from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.

This is in addition to the five containers sent back to Spain on 29th April of this year.

The containers are filled with contaminated, non-homogeneous, low quality nonrecyclable plastic waste, and are routed to processing facilities which do not have the technology to recycle in an environmentally sound manner, a practice which is against the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

The laborious and costly inspection process was necessary to identify the content of the containers and its exporting companies.

To date, MESTECC, through the Department of Environment, has inspected 123 containers originating from countries including the UK, the US, Japan, China, Spain, Canada, Australia, Netherland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Norway, and France, with the inspection process on-going.

Since July of last year, the Department for Environment has conducted massive crackdowns on the influx of imported contaminated plastic waste, acting against illegal and non-compliant plastic processing factories.

In March, it extended its enforcement activities in joint operations with various agencies to inspect various containers filled with plastic waste at Port Klang.

As a Party to the Basel Convention, Malaysia imposes strict requirements in line with Article 4(11) of the Convention for all importation of mixed plastic waste to ensure that any transboundary movements are conducted in a manner which will protect human health and the environment.

MESTECC Minister Yeo Bee Yin said: “We will continue to weed out the imports of contaminated plastic waste. These containers were illegally brought into the country under false declaration and other offences which clearly violates our environmental law.”

“Garbage is traded under the pretext of recycling. Malaysians are forced to suffer poor air quality due to open burning of plastics which leads to health hazards, polluted rivers, illegal landfills, and a host of other related problems.”

“We view the perpetrators of this act as traitors to the country’s sustainability and therefore they should be stopped and brought to justice.”

“We found out that one recycling company in the UK has exported more than 50,000 tonnes of plastic waste in about 1000 containers for the past two years.”

“We urge the developed countries to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping the garbage out to the developing countries.”

“We will compile these recycling companies names and send them to the respective government for further investigation.”