3 More Containers Of Trash From UK Have Been Dumped In Penang

People responsible for accepting the containers of trash are said to be foreigners.

Cover image via The Guardian & New Straits Times

Last month, the United Kingdom dumped three more containers of trash in North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT), Penang

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via The Edge Markets

The 40-foot containers with 30 to 45 tonnes of plastic and municipal waste showed up at NBCT on 20 September, when the United Kingdom was supposed to take back their trash, State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh told The Star.

"There are already 42 containers with waste content here for a very long time and need to be returned to the UK," lamented Phee.

"Now, another three containers are stranded at the NBCT despite us trying to get rid of them."

There are over 200 containers of waste material currently occupying spaces at ports all over Malaysia

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Penang Port

In April, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change (MESTECC) Minister Yeo Bee Yin ordered these containers, which were found in illegal recycling factories, to be sent back to the countries of origin.

However, based on an industry source, The Star reported that the bulk of trash are still around because the senders cannot be traced.

"To make matters worse, the party that imported the material and received them in Malaysia also mostly cannot be found," said the source.

Reportedly, the recycling companies who vanished after spotlight was cast on the issue are said to be owned by foreigners

According to the report in The Star, even if the countries of origin of the trash could be located, most of them would refuse to take it back as they have no legal obligation to follow such an order.

"Most of the material stuck in containers is recyclable," the source continued.

"It would be cheaper to just recycle them instead of sending them back. If the Malaysian government commits to paying the freight forwarders, in the event owners of the waste material are located, the cost is going to be very high," he added.

Meanwhile, Minister Yeo has stated that Malaysia would not spend a single sen on shipment fees to send the waste back

Explaining that the issue is also about the dignity of the nation, Yeo said Putrajaya's stance on the issue is to order the countries of origin to bear the cost of the repatriation, reported New Straits Times.

"Our principle is that our country will not fork out any money to send it back," she said.

"It's not only about cost, it's about dignity... why people send things to you and you still pay for it yourself to send it back?

"So let's hold them (the plastic waste containers) here and get owners to pay the fines until they can send them back."

Majority of the containers came from Hong Kong, the United States, Germany, Canada, and Japan

As of now, there are 397 containers of plastic waste sitting at NBCT, which all weigh up to 5,955 tonnes.

Yeo said her ministry is working closely with the Penang government to identify the owners of these containers so that they can negotiate on the repatriation.

"We have contacted the respective embassies. In fact, a team from the United Kingdom was here a few days ago to look at the containers," Yeo said on Saturday, 28 September.

She assured that there is no problem or delay in sending the plastic waste back but the government is merely following the necessary due process.

The trash crisis in Malaysia has been ongoing since April. Here are previous reports on the issue:

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