PETALING JAYA: An environmental group today told the US not to send its waste to developing countries and to process it on its own instead, after a consignment from the superpower arrived in Malaysia recently.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president Meenakshi Raman said it was unjust for a wealthy country to offload its trash on countries that are under-resourced.
“A rich country like the US should have the capacity to manage its own waste. Shifting the responsibility of dealing with plastic waste to developing and under-resourced countries is an injustice.
“The US should not export waste. It should take responsibility for its own waste and recycle domestically,” she said in a statement.
Meenakshi said plastic recycling should not be used as an excuse to create more plastic products, especially single-use plastics.
“We need to move towards zero waste. While the entire world is dealing with the bane of plastic waste, the corporations and businesses that create such issues need to quickly address it,” she said.
Recently, it was reported that Malaysia allowed in a container of plastic waste from the US after finding that it held only clean, recyclable material, and found this did not violate a new United Nations treaty banning trade in contaminated plastics.
Malaysia has become the leading destination for the world’s plastic trash after China banned imports in 2018. Over the past few years, Malaysia has returned thousands of tonnes of plastic scrap to their countries of origin.
Meenakshi said the environment and water ministry should be lauded for diligently inspecting this suspected shipment of plastic waste from the US.
However, she said based on open data, 9,800 tonnes of plastic waste under the HS3915 code had been exported from the US to Malaysia in January alone.
“We hope that the authorities had checked each container that came through our ports, not only from the US but other countries too as not all of this plastic would have been as clean or homogeneous.”
The US, which produces more plastic waste per capita than any other country, is the only major nation not to have ratified the Basel Convention and is not bound by its rules.
Under the treaty, Malaysia cannot accept prohibited plastic waste from the US. Malaysia has signed the convention which came to force on Jan 1.
Under the convention, signatories can only trade in plastic waste if it is clean, sorted and easy to recycle.