UK agrees to take back 42 containers of illegally imported plastic waste from Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: The United Kingdom has agreed to repatriate 42 containers comprising illegal shipments of plastic waste from Malaysia in accordance with the Basel Convention, says the British High Commission.

The High Commission said that authorities and shipping agents were currently working together in the repatriation process.

The containers, which had arrived at Penang Port between March 2018 and March 2019, were deemed illegal as they failed to comply with the necessary import papers.

The announcement came following a recent visit by the UK’s Environment Agency (EA) in response to news of the illegal shipment of plastic waste from the UK.

The EA held a series of meetings with the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (Mestecc), the Environment Department, Malaysian Customs, relevant port authorities and other Malaysian agencies.

“The British High Commission’s proactive action of working closely with Mestecc in repatriating 42 plastic import containers in Penang Port is highly commendable. This co-operation signifies a recognition that plastic pollution is a global issue that requires commitment from various countries to address the problem.

“We hope the co-operation and understanding between Malaysia and UK will set an example for other countries with companies exporting contaminated plastic waste to other developing nations, ” Mestecc Minister Yeo Bee Yin said in a statement Monday (Nov 25).

The British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay said the UK shared the same concerns as the Malaysian Government on the issue of plastic waste.

“The repatriation of these 42 containers reflects our commitment to fighting the illegal plastic waste trade, ” he said, adding that the UK looked forward to working with Malaysia on the broader agenda of conserving the environment and addressing climate change.

The Basel Convention is an international treaty aimed at reducing the movement of hazardous waste between countries.

Yeo had previously highlighted the problem of contaminated plastic waste being sent to Malaysia.

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.

News reports said 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 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.

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