UK agrees to repatriate plastic wastes

The British High Commission agrees to take back 42 containers of waste as they failed to comply with the necessary import papers

pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE UK government has agreed to take back 42 containers of illegal plastic waste from Malaysia, the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur confirmed yesterday.

It said authorities and shipping agents are currently cooperating in the repatriation process for containers which arrived at the Penang Port between March 2018 and March 2019. They were deemed illegal as they failed to comply with the necessary import papers.

The announcement came after the UK’s Environment Agency’s (EA) visit, organised by the British High Commission in response to news of the illegal shipment of plastic waste from the UK.

The EA held meetings with the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (MESTECC), Department of Environment, Royal Malaysian Customs Department, relevant port authorities and agencies in Malaysia.

These meetings have resulted in a greater mutual understanding of the regulatory framework and policies related to trade in plastic waste, and an exchange of knowledge, inspection procedures, identification and repatriation of plastic waste.

MESTECC Minister Yeo Bee Yin (picture) described the proactive action by the UK as highly commendable. She said the cooperation signified recognition that plastic pollution is a global issue which requires commitment from various countries to tackle.

“We hope the cooperation and understanding between Malaysia and the UK will set an example for other countries with companies exporting contaminated plastic waste to other developing nations,” she said.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay said the UK shares the same concerns as Malaysia on the issue of plastic waste. He said the repatriation of these 42 containers reflects both countries’ commitment to fighting the illegal plastic waste trade.

“We look forward to working with Malaysia on the broader agenda of conserving the environment and addressing climate change, particularly with the UK becoming the joint chair of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change next year,” Hay said.

MESTECC and the British High Commission are already collaborating on several initiatives in tackling plastic pollution including jointly hosting a VIP screening of BBC Studios’ “Blue Planet II” to raise public awareness on the perils of single-use plastics.

In addition, the High Commission is offering UK expertise from WRAP Global, a UK sustainability charity, to support MESTECC’s initiative in setting up the Malaysia Plastics Pact. The High Commission will also be sending UK experts to deliver a venture workshop in partnership with MESTECC, to promote research and innovation in mitigating the use of plastic.