When China banned the import of most plastics, there was a fear that source states without the waste infrastructure would be swamped by plastics. However, instead of developing solutions, they were relieved to find that other destinations had left their doors open.
Malaysia Starts Rejecting Plastic Wastes as it Changes View on Imports
Now, Malaysia has signalled its intentions on waste by returning 3000 metric tons of plastics waste to its source countries.
Malaysia‘s environment minister Yeo Bee Yin said 60 containers filled with contaminated waste had been taken into illegal waste-processing plants in Malaysia.
Ms Yeo said a UK recycling company exported more than 50,000 metric tons of plastic waste in about 1,000 containers to Malaysia over the past two years.
The government showed off ten containers filled with plastic waste at a port outside Kuala Lumpur, as Yeo Bee Yin vowed that the waste will be shipped back within two weeks.
Ms Yeo said, ‘This is probably just the tip of the iceberg (due) to the banning of plastic waste by China,’ she said.
‘Malaysia will not be a dumping ground to the world… we will fight back. Even though we are a small country, we can’t be bullied by developed countries.’
The Malaysian government has clamped down on dozens of illegal plastic recycling facilities that had mushroomed across the country, shutting more than 150 plants since last July. Earlier this month, the government also sent back five containers of waste to Spain.
Ms Yeo said China‘s plastic waste ban had ‘opened up the eyes of the world to see that we have a huge rubbish and recycling problem’.
‘We urge the developed countries to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping the rubbish out to the developing countries,’ she said.
This is another red flag for the tyre exporters. When markets struggle to cope with their own waste, they will increasingly block imports of our waste. We must act now to create the waste infrastructure to deal with our waste in our domestic markets.