The UK will take back 42 containers filled with plastic waste that had been illegally shipped to Malaysia, authorities said on Monday November 25th. After China imposed a ban on scrap imports, disrupting the flow of more than 7m tonnes a year, Malaysia last year became the world’s main destination for plastic waste.
Hundreds of containers of plastic waste have been held at ports across Malaysia because they have arrived without the required permits.
The 42 containers in question arrived at Penang Port between March 2018 and March 2019, Malaysia’s environment ministry and the British High Commission said in a joint statement.
Last month Reuters reported that more than 300 containers carrying plastic waste were being held at Penang. Malaysia said earlier this year that it would send plastic waste back to the source country, and get them to pay for the transportation costs.
Since the Chinese ban on scrap imports came into effect, many recycling factories, often operating without a licence, have started operating. However, residents complained of environmental damage, noting that much of the plastic scrap coming into the country was non-recyclable contaminated and low-quality plastic which ended up being burnt or buried in landfills.