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‘Cambodia is not a dustbin’: Cambodia returns 1,600 tons of plastic waste to US and Canada

Packer Avenue Marine Terminal Port on the Delaware River in South Philadelphia is shown Tuesday, June 18, 2019, when shipping containers full of illegal drugs have been found and seized by federal authorities. (Jose F. Moreno/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)
July 21, 2019

Cambodia is in the process of sending back almost seven dozen shipping containers filled with plastic waste to the countries they came from: the United States and Canada.

The country’s Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said Wednesday the total weight of the waste found Tuesday in 83 containers in Sihanoukville, the country’s main port, was 1,600 tons.

Pheaktra said 70 of the containers were shipped from the United States and 13 came from Canada. Both countries are major exporters of such waste.

He said the 83 containers, which arrived over a period beginning in October 2018, contained only plastic waste, not toxic materials or radioactive substances.

“Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government also opposes any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country,” Pheaktra said.

Cambodia joins a growing list of Southeast Asian countries that are rejecting shipments of waste, plastics and other trash from Western countries amid the global trash crisis.

China banned plastic waste in 2017.

Earlier this month, Indonesia sent 49 of containers of waste back to Australia, the U.S., France, Germany and Hong Kong after inspections showed that their contents violated the country’s import laws.

Electronic waste, which often has toxic qualities, is also a major problem, with shipments bouncing from port to port after being turned away.


© 2019 USA Today