Cambodia announced that it will send 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste back to the U.S. and Canada, becoming the latest Southeast Asian country join the backlash against taking in the developed world’s trash.
The country’s environment minister said 83 shipping containers of garbage were found Tuesday at Cambodia’s main port in Sihanoukville, according to the Guardian. Seventy of the containers came from the U.S. and 13 were shipped from 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“Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government also opposes any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country,” Neth Pheaktra, a spokesman for the country’s environment minister, said according to the Guardian.
The spokesman said that the government plans to investigate how and why the containers were sent to the country, and fines might be imposed on companies responsible for shipping the waste, reports the Guardian.
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia does not allow plastic waste or recyclables to be sent there, according to the Guardian.
Southeast Asia saw a huge spike in plastic waste shipments after China, who was the largest importer of scrap plastic, banned the import of plastic waste in at the beginning of 2018 because of severe pollution due to a poorly managed waste process.
But several countries have pushed back. In May, Malaysia said it would send waste back to where it came from, and the Philippines sent 69 containers of garbage for the shores of Vancouver in late May. Indonesia said this month that it would send dozens of containers of waste back to France, Australia and other developed countries, reports the Guardian.
According to Greenpeace, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950’s, and only 9% of this has been recycled. 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans every year.