UK Government respond to illegal plastic exports to Malaysia

Cargo ship
Cargo ship

The UK Government has responded to the illegal trade of plastic waste sent to Malaysia by stating that it stands with the country and will repatriate the waste shipped illegally out of the UK and collaborate on research and development.  

While the Government has said that it recognises there is a legitimate export market for plastics, it condemns firms that export unrecyclable plastic waste illegally, as well as businesses that import recyclable plastic waste, but fail to recycle or dispose of the waste in a sustainable way.  


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To tackle illegal waste exports from the UK, the Environment Agency works closely with businesses that export waste to destinations, such as Malaysia, to ensure that waste exported for recycling is uncontaminated and only sent to overseas facilities that are licenced and able to recycle it correctly.  

There are various enforcement options for those found exporting waste illegally, including a two-year jail term or an unlimited fine.  

The UK Government is a signatory to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and stands ready to work with the Malaysian authorities to repatriate any waste found to be shipped illegally to Malaysia.  

Work is currently underway in the UK to find ways to improve waste export management.  

Meanwhile the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is also supporting the Malaysian Government in tackling the plastic waste issue, including sharing UK experiences and collaborating with the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change on research and development for the future mitigation of plastic use.  

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