Not the World’s Garbage Dump: Malaysia returns 150 containers of trash to France, US, UK and Canada

“If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you can dream on,” stated Yeo Bin Yee, Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change.

43 of the 150 containers were sent back to France and 42 to the UK. 17 containers will be returned to the US and the remaining 11 to Canada.

Why is this an issue? In the past few years, Malaysia has emerged as a major destination for illegal waste trafficking.

How did this happen?

Since 1992, China imported 45% of the world’s plastic trash. The US alone shipped around 4,000 containers of trash to China every day.

But in 2017, China banned the import of “foreign garbage” which includes recyclables under their National Sword policy.

Illegal recycling facilities in Malaysia  quickly seized the opportunity to get rid of the waste, with many of them either burying or burning scraps. But this has had terrible effects on our environment, with residents stating they had become accustomed to the smell of burning plastic.

This is a great stance for Malaysia to take in forcing these countries to deal with their own trash, not pawn it off on others. But unless we seriously change our trash habits on a global level, another 122 million tons of trash projected to accumulate over the next ten years will have no where to go.

There’s only one solution: stop making unnecessary plastic. We need to find a better alternative.

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