The British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur released a statement saying it is “deeply concerned” about the illegal trade in plastic waste, including recent reports of potentially illegal plastic waste exported from the UK to Malaysia.
The statement comes after Malaysian environment minister, Yeo Bee Yin, announced the country will send back 3,000 tonnes of contaminated waste to countries including the UK, America, Australia and Canada, after sixty shipping containers had been smuggled into illegal processing facilities in the country.
The British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur said: “While we recognise that there is a legitimate export market for plastics – particularly for countries that manufacture new products out of recycled plastic waste, we condemn companies which export unrecyclable plastic waste illegally, as well as companies which import recyclable plastic waste but fail to recycle or dispose of the waste in a responsible and sustainable manner.”
We condemn companies which export unrecyclable plastic waste illegally, as well as companies which import recyclable plastic waste but fail to recycle or dispose of the waste in a responsible and sustainable manner.
It said the UK Government, being a signatory to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, ‘stands ready’ to work with the Malaysian authorities to repatriate any waste found to be shipped illegally to Malaysia.
It also said that work is underway in the UK to find ways to strengthen waste export management.
The British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur says it is also supporting the Malaysian Government in tackling the plastic waste problem by sharing UK experience as well as collaborating with the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) in Malaysia on research and development in future mitigation of plastic use.
To tackle illegal waste exports from the UK, the Environment Agency works with businesses that export waste to countries such as Malaysia to ensure that waste exported for recycling is uncontaminated and only sent to overseas facilities that are correctly licensed and able to recycle it correctly.
There are a range of enforcement options for those found exporting waste illegally including criminal and financial sanctions.
Individuals found to be exporting incorrectly-described waste can face a two year jail term or an unlimited fine.
It was also recently reported that The Philippines has returned around 1,500 tonnes of what was claimed as being “falsely labelled as plastic recycling waste” back to Canada.