Malaysia Hands Back Plastic Waste to 13 Countries, Fights Back

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As a nation, Malaysia has long played the role of partner to other larger nations both nearby and globally. However, one poor aspect of how other nations treat Malaysia has been how often they send garbage to the country. This has begun to have a majorly detrimental impact on the quality of life for Malaysians. 


Shutterstock / Plastic pollution crisis. Garbage sent to Malaysia for recycling is instead dumped in a huge landfill

Not to mention the damage that it has to both local views and the local lifestyle. That’s why the news that Malaysia has started to send back over 150 containers of plastic waste to 13 nations is not surprising at all.

For years, they’ve taken in the dumping and the waste from major nations across the world. This includes the likes of the UK, the USA, China, Japan, Singapore, and Spain. 

Other big users of Malaysian dumping sites include Canada and France. That, though, is about to stop. The country has sent back 17 containers alone to the UK, with the amounts returned to Asian partners like Japan and China has not been quantified.

We're not your dump

Speaking about the decision to send it back was Yeo Bee Yin, the head of Malaysia’s Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Ministry. He said when talking about it: 

"Our position is very firm. We just want to send back [the waste] and we just want to give a message that Malaysia is not the dumping site of the world,"


Shutterstock / Malaysia's Minister of Energy, Science, Technology Yeo Bee Yin

When China banned the importation of plastic waste back in 2018, Malaysia soon became the favored alternative. However, the intake of over 870,000 tonnes of plastic in 2018 was simply too much. the country has therefore decided to stop accepting such vast sums of waste, and it has also banned the importation of such refuse. 

It’s also started to send back more and more items, with around 3,300 tonnes of plastic waste sent back to the right location.

This came to be after major unlicensed recycling firms started appearing up and down the country. Many of the plastics were not able to be recycled, though, instead of being burned and causing various health issues to those nearby. 

They also suffered from issues such as water and soil contamination. So, the countries government has decided that enough is enough, and they have well and truly put their foot down on this.

And quite right, too – how can it be correct that a country is turned into a global dumping ground?

With 200 or more illegal factories now shut down, Malaysia is not working to make sure it can change its reputation. They no longer wish to be seen as ‘the rubbish dump of the world’, and other nations need to accept this. 

As Yeo said: "If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you dream on."