Malaysia will send back 3,000 metric tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste to countries including Britain, saying it ‘will not be a dumping ground’ for rich nations.
The move comes after China banned the import of plastic waste.
Mayalisa’s environment minister Yeo Bee Yin said 60 containers filled with contaminated waste had been smuggled 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.
The waste that was displayed included cables from the UK, contaminated milk cartons from Australia and compact discs from Bangladesh. Also shown were electronic and household waste from the US, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia and China.
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.'
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The 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.