What’s happening in Malaysia?
In 2018, China enacted the ‘National Sword’ policy, which banned the import of plastics and other kinds of trash. As a result, many recycling businesses based in China shifted their operations to Malaysia, causing enormous amounts of plastic being illegally shipped into the country. Malaysia has decided to take action, returning 150 containers carrying 3737 metric tons of plastic waste back to their senders, with the exporting countries covering the cost. The exporting countries are mostly wealthier countries like France, the UK and Canada.
Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin remarked about the issue: “People dump their rubbish into your country, we are not supposed to pay them to send it back.” She stated that the government ‘[would] take the necessary steps to ensure that Malaysia does not become the garbage dump of the world.
Malaysia aims to return another 110 containers in the near future, 60 of which are from the US. Other Southeast Asian countries have done the same; Indonesia has returned hundreds of containers, while the Philippines has sent back a large shipment of garbage to Canada.
Malaysia’s environment ministry “will continue to wage war against pollution, including plastic waste”, said Minister Yeo when interviewed in Butterworth, a city with a major port from where some containers were sent back.