Malaysia, which has returned plastic waste to 13 countries since last year, warned Monday that Malaysia will not be “the rubbish dump of the world.”
Since the third quarter last year, Malaysia has sent back 150 containers of plastic waste. Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said another 110 containers are expected to be sent back by the middle of this year.
Of the 150 containers, 43 were returned to France, 42 to the United Kingdom, 17 to the United States, 11 to Canada, 10 to Spain and the rest to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Portugal, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Lithuania, her ministry said.
She said the costs of sending back the waste were fully borne by the shipping liners and companies responsible for importing and exporting the waste, while the Malaysian government didn't pay a single cent.
Yeo said talks were ongoing with U.S. authorities to take back another 60 containers this year. Canada also has 15 more containers, Japan 14, the U.K. 9 and Belgium 8 of the 110 additional containers still being held at Malaysian ports, she said.
"If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you dream on," Yeo told reporters during an inspection at a port in northern Penang state.
Yeo said the government will launch an action plan on illegal plastic importation next month that will help the different agencies coordinate enforcement and speed up the process of returning the waste.
"Our position is very firm. We just want to send back [the waste], and we just want to give a message that Malaysia is not the dumping site of the world," she added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.