Cambodia says plastic waste shipments came from US, Canada

Containers loaded with plastic waste are placed at country beach city Sihanoukville Port southwest of Phnom Penh Cambodia

Containers loaded with plastic waste are placed at country beach city Sihanoukville Port southwest of Phnom Penh Cambodia

Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday.

Cambodian officials want the USA and Canada to leave their trash at home - and they are sending a whopping 1,600 tons of plastic waste back to where it came from, according to a new report.

Following the discovery of the trash, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, took the opportunity to remind the world that Cambodia is not a dumping ground for the waste from other countries.

China's decision to ban foreign plastic waste imports past year threw global recycling into chaos, leaving developed nations struggling to find countries to send their trash.

"Cambodia is not a dustbin to where other countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government always objects to any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be processed in the country".

He said 70 containers full of plastic waste were shipped from the United State while another 13 were sent from Canada. A government committee has also been set-up to investigate how and why the trash ended up there in the first place. He added that any company found to be involved in bringing in the waste would be fined and brought to court.

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When found, the containers would be returned to the country or countries of origin, with those responsible to be punished, he said.

Electronic waste, which often has toxic qualities, is also a major problem, with shipments bouncing from port to port after being turned away.

Kun Nhem, the director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise, Environment Minister Say Sam Al, Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun and Lou Kim Chhun, the director-general of Sihanoukville Port, were among the officials present during the operation, Pheaktra said.

It is believed that the 83 containers, which arrived over a period beginning in October 2018, do not contain any risky or toxic materials or radioactive substances.

Cambodia already struggles with their own plastic waste domestically, with little public awareness of their plastic crisis and inadequate facilities and infrastructure to deal with it and recycle.

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