Malaysia will send up to 100 tonnes of waste back to Australia after its government deemed the waste too contaminated to recycle.
The material, including plastic bottles “full of maggots”, is part of 3000 tonnes of garbage from around the world that Malaysia plans to send back because it is contaminated, rotting, or smuggled in under false labels.
Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s environment minister, said Malaysia would no longer be a “dumping ground” for the world’s rubbish.
“Whoever sends their waste to Malaysia, whether it’s e-waste, plastic waste or whatever, we will send it back. Even though we are a small country, we will not be bullied by developed countries.
“We will fight back,” she said. “Malaysians have a right to clean air, clean water and a clean environment to live in, just like citizens of developed nations.”
According to Yeo, though citizens of developed countries believe that companies are shipping waste to be recycled, it is in fact dumped illegally.
“We will send a list of the names of these companies to their respective governments, so they can take further action and investigate,” she said.
Malaysia is one of a number of south-east Asian companies, including Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, which is cracking down on imports of foreign waste after China announced it would refuse to accept rubbish from overseas early last year.
Other developed countries that will see rubbish returned from Malaysia include the US, UK, Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands.