Malaysia will send back nearly 3,000 metric tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste to countries including the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom in a move to avoid becoming a "dumping ground" for rich nations.
Since China disrupted the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of rubbish by banning its import past year, Malaysia became the world's primary host for foreign waste.
Malaysia's Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, Yeo Bee Yin shows plastic waste inside a cargo container before it is sent back to the country of origin in Port Klang, Selangor, Malaysia, 28 May 2019.
Workers open a container full of non-recyclable plastic detained by authorities at the west port in Klang, Malaysia, Tuesday, May 28, 2019.
"This is probably just the tip of the iceberg (due) to the banning of plastic waste by China", Ms Yeo said.
"We will return it back to the country of origin without any mercy", Yeo said, after inspecting several waste-filled containers at Port Klang, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.
She urged developed countries to review the management of their plastic waste and to stop using developing countries as dumpsites for their garbage.
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Malaysia has announced it will send 3,000 metric tonnes of non-recyclable plastic back to developed nations that illegally shipped it there, drawing a line in the sand and highlighting the world's major waste problem.
In one case alone, Yeo said a United Kingdom recycling company exported more than 55,000 tons of plastic waste in about 1,000 containers to Malaysia over the past two years. "Malaysia will not be the dumping ground of the world", she explained in April, when a Malaysian government investigation found the U.S., Australia, Great Britain and Germany were illegally dumping rubbish into the country.
Last week, Duterte upped the ante, threatening to cut diplomatic ties with Canada if Ottawa did not take back the 1,500 tons of waste.
The Malaysian government has shut down over 150 illegal recycling facilities since last July.
Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the Canadian government had awarded a contract to French shipping giant Bollore Logistics Canada that calls for the return of 69 containers filled with household waste and electronic garbage to Canada by the end of June.
Yeo said that 60 total containers will be sent back to their country of origin.
The Philippines, however, rejected Canada's plan and will look for a private shipping company to rapidly transport the garbage to Canadian territory.
"Garbage is traded under the pretext of recycling".