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Cambodia to return 1,600 tonnes of waste to US, Canada

By AFP - Jul 17,2019 - Last updated at Jul 17,2019

This handout photo released by the Cambodian ministry of environment on Wednesday shows workers opening a container loaded with plastic waste after the shipment arrived at Sihanoukville Port in Preah Sihanouk province (AFP photo)

PHNOM PENH — Cambodia will send back 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste found in shipping containers to the US and Canada, an official said on Wednesday, as southeast Asian countries revolt against an onslaught of rubbish shipments.

China’s decision to ban foreign plastic waste imports last year threw global recycling into chaos, leaving developed nations struggling to find countries to send their trash.

The rubbish was found on Tuesday in scores of shipping containers at the port town of Sihanoukville and will be sent back to its origin, Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told AFP.

“Cambodia is not a bin for out-of-date technology to be dumped in,” he added.

He said 70 containers full of plastic waste were shipped from the United State while another 13 were sent from Canada.

Images of officials inspecting the containers, stuffed with bundled plastic, riled up Cambodian social media users. 

The trash delivery was a “serious insult”, Transparency International Cambodia Executive Director Preap Kol said in a Facebook post.

Huge quantities of rubbish have wound up on southeast Asian shores as opposition to handling exported trash is growing in the region.

Indonesia announced this month it was sending back dozens of containers full of waste to France and other developed nations, while neighbouring Malaysia said in May it was shipping 450 tonnes of imported plastic waste back to its sources.

Around 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, with much of it ending up in landfills or polluting the seas in what has become a growing international crisis.

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