1,800 tonnes of illegal toxic waste found abandoned in Malaysian port

110 containers of toxic electric arc furnace dust (EAFD) were found abandoned at Malaysia’s Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) last month, state media Bernama reported last week (19 July). The discarded waste is of Romanian origin, and was bound for Indonesia, entering the country illegally.

According to Malaysia’s Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the illegal shipment weighed 1,864 tonnes, making it the country’s largest case of dumped toxic waste. The EAFD, classified as toxic waste under the Basel Convention, has been listed as concentrated zinc in declaration forms.

Shipping containers at Malaysia's Port KlangThe Malaysian Department of Environment (DOE) has contacted the Romanian Basel Convention authority to arrange the repatriation of the illegal waste shipment.

This comes as the latest in a series of illegal waste import cases in Malaysia – according to Tuan Man, the DOE, cooperating with the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and port authorities, has thwarted 28 attempts to illegally import scheduled waste in the first half of this year.

Following China’s 2018 ban on 24 grades of solid waste, and its subsequent crackdown on illegal waste imports, Malaysia quickly became one of the world’s most popular destinations for plastic waste. In the first four months following China’s ban, UK plastic waste exports to Malaysia tripled, and August of that year saw the Malaysian government follow China’s lead, banning imports of plastic waste altogether.

Earlier this year, the Malaysian government announced that it would be returning 3,737 tonnes of illegally imported plastic waste, with the majority being repatriated to developed countries including the US, France and the UK. In a Facebook post, Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said that the country was “serious about combating the import of illegal wastes” and that it would not become the “garbage bin of the world”.

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