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Cambodia Sends Plastic Waste Back to U.S. and Canada

Scores of plastic waste shipments have been arriving in Southeast Asia from Western countries, and now the Asian nations are pushing back.

Global recycling is an ongoing issue, as can be seen by the latest news that Cambodia is shipping back 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste sent in shipping containers from the U.S. and Canada.

Southeastern Asian countries are pushing back on Western rubbish shipments that have been arriving in droves.

The complications began last year when China banned foreign plastic waste shipment imports, throwing global recycling into chaos. Developed nations have been left stumped trying to find suitable countries to send their trash to.

“Cambodia is not a bin”

The latest tonnes of rubbish were discovered on Tuesday in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville port, in a large shipping container. The country’s environment ministry spokesperson, Neth Pheaktra told AFP that they were sending back the rubbish to its origins.

“Cambodia is not a bin for out-of-date technology to be dumped in,” he said.

According to Pheaktra, 70 containers filled with plastic waste had been shipped from the U.S. and 13 from Canada.

Cambodia has taken this blow and retaliated, and Transparency International Cambodia executive director Preap Kol said that this trash ‘delivery’ was a “serious insult.”

Southeast Asia’s rubbish problem

Kun Nhim, director-general of Cambodia’s General Department of Customs and Excise, told AP on Wednesday that other countries in the region had also taken action on the issue, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Nhim said that 83 containers have arrived since October 2018, containing only plastic waste.

This simply adds to the country’s domestic issues with creating plastic waste -there’s little infrastructure in place and almost no general awareness of the pressing issue.

Cambodia is not the only Southeast Asian receiver of these unwelcomed goods.

There have been problems arising from toxic waste landing on these Southeast Asian shores as electronic waste is also a problem. Many containers wind up bouncing from one port to the next, trying to find a country to take them in.

Indonesia declared this month that they were sending back dozens of containers filled with waste to France and other developed nations. Malaysia joined in by stating in May that they were returning 450 tonnes of imported plastic waste back to their origins.

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This article was published on interestingengineering.com