'Not A Dustbin': Cambodia To Return 1,600 Tonnes Of Plastic Waste To US And Canada

'Not A Dustbin': Cambodia To Return 1,600 Tonnes Of Plastic Waste To US And Canada

A shocking 83 shipping containers, filled with plastic, were found at the major southwestern port of Sihanoukville on Tuesday.

Cambodia has become the latest Asian country to reportedly send back plastic to where it came from. According to CNN, Cambodia is rejecting shipments of waste sent to its shores by Western companies to be processed. On Wednesday, Cambodian officials announced that they will be sending back 1,600 tonnes of trash back to their source - the United States and Canada.

A shocking 83  shipping containers, filled with plastic, were found at the major southwestern port of Sihanoukville on Tuesday, said Neth Pheaktra, Secretary of State and Spokesman to the Ministry of Environment.



Apparently, the containers were labeled as "recyclable products", and bore no stickers of plastic waste, said Pheaktra. They were opened up by customs and excise officials.

An investigation is ongoing in the customs ministry as to how the containers ended up in Cambodia and which companies were behind it.  When they find out who's behind it, they would be fined and brought to court, Pheaktra said.



Meanwhile, the federal government is all set to begin the process to send the trash back to where it came from- The US and Canada. "Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government also opposes any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country," said Pheaktra.

This is the latest incident where western countries ship electronic waste, plastics, and other trash to Southeast Asia, in a global trash crisis. 



Last year, China banned plastic waste imports as part of an initiative to clean up its environment. It caused a ripple effect through global supply chains, as middlemen sought new destinations for their trash in countries such as Malaysia or the Philippines.

This rotating of trash imports has created what can only be described as an illicit industry of unlicensed plastic recyclers.



Earlier this year in Malaysia, a government crackdown found at least 148 unlicensed recycling factories that polluted local communities with toxic fumes and contaminated bodies of water.

As a response to this, governments are now trying to crackdown and stem the inflow of trash. In what could be seen as the first step towards this, the Philippines and Canada engaged in a drawn-out diplomatic row over the issue of imported trash earlier this year.



The row got too heated and even Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte recalled his ambassador to Ottawa. And finally, Canada agreed to take back 2,450 tons of trash in May.

In the same month, Malaysia sent back 450 tonnes of plastic waste to their countries of origin, including the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. While we mention that countries send across the waste to other countries, we must also speak about the fact that they have been trying to curb the crisis. 



The governments of 187 countries agreed to control the movement of plastic waste between national borders in May by adding plastic to the Basel Convention, an international regulatory treaty.

The move was "a highly welcome step towards redressing this imbalance and restoring a measure of accountability to the global plastic waste management system," said the World Wildlife Fund.

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