KLANG: Plastic waste from Bangladesh has been found to be shipped into Malaysia, as a container of waste was among nine opened and displayed to the media at Westport on Tuesday (May 28).
It was discovered that compact discs (CDs) were hidden inside a container with clean recyclable scraps at the front.
"I was very shocked. In front was legal waste, while the illegal waste was placed behind it.
"I really hope things like this would not happen again," Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Yee Bin said during a press conference later, when asked about the waste from the South Asian country.
Besides Bangladesh, the other containers came from Japan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, America, and China.
"We will be sending all this waste back," said Yeo, adding that Malaysia would be sending back 450 metric tonnes of plastic in 10 containers.
She also said that the inspection process on another 50 containers brought in illegally is still ongoing.
A total of 3000 metric tonnes of plastic waste from 60 containers is expected to be shipped back, once the inspection process is fully completed.
Before this, five containers were sent back to Spain on April 29.
To date, 123 containers have been inspected through joint operations between several agencies, including the Department of Environment (DOE), the customs, the police, Port Klang Authority, and the Department of National Solid Waste Management.
The waste smuggled in was falsely declared as recyclable.
She said the process to inspect the waste was both laborious and costly.
Yeo said the local importers involved were traitors to the country's sustainability, and that they should be brought to justice.
"These people don't love the country," she said.
Yeo said they had discovered one recycling company from the UK who had exported 50,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste into Malaysia over the past two years.
"We urge developed countries to review their waste management of plastic waste and stop shipping it out to developing countries," she said.
China banned plastic imports earlier last year, leading to a huge impact on the global recycling system.
This led to a number of Chinese companies relocating their operations to Malaysia, with some setting up shop here as soon as the Chinese government announced the ban in 2017.
A news reports said that Malaysia's imports of plastic waste from its 10 biggest source-countries jumped to 456,000 tonnes between January and July 2018, versus 316,600 tonnes purchased in all of 2017 and 168,500 tonnes in 2016.
Most of the plastic scrap coming into the country is contaminated and low-quality plastic from developed countries that is non-recyclable.