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Malesia launches investigation into illegal containers of plastic waste shipped from Belgium

The Malaysian Environment Ministry has launched an investigation after 7 containers full of waste plastic that had been shipped from Belgium were discovered at one of the country’s ports. A Malaysian ministry official told the Dutch public broadcaster KRO-NCRV’s documentary programme ‘De Monitor’ that it suspects that the waste was originally from The Netherlands. 

The Dutch Inspectorate for the Environment and Transport Spokesman Fabian Paardekoper told the programme that an investigation is on-going and that the waste had been shipped from Antwerp.

A Dutch waste trader is also reportedly involved in the illegal shipment. “He arranged the collection and the shipment of the waste. As the country of origin is Belgium they will lead the investigation. We are cooperating with it”.

The Malaysian Environment has said that the containers didn’t have a licence to be shipped to the country. The exact nature of the waste and whether or not it is contaminated is currently being investigated. 

Waste often shipped to Malaysia

The Malaysian Environment Ministry says that European countries often ship their waste to the country for “recycling” as this costs less in the Southeast Asian country than it would in Europe. However, once in Malaysia, the plastic is often burned or simply dumped, causing pollution in the air and to groundwater and in rivers.

In the spring the Malaysian Environment Minister told the international media that he didn’t want his country to be treated as a dump and that if discovered containers of waste would be retained to their countries of origin at the expense of the country concerned.