Cambodia says garbage shipment came from US, Canada

Shipping containers full of plastic waste were found in Sihanoukville port

About 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste, which was found in 83 shipping containers in Cambodia's main port of Sihanoukville, will be sent back to the USA and Canada, a spokesman for the Cambodian Environment Minister said on Wednesday.

The rubbish-filled containers were discovered on Tuesday at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which is the country's largest sea port in southwestern Preah Sihanouk province.

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"Cambodia is not a bin for out-of-date technology to be dumped in", he added. The country's environment ministry spokesperson, Neth Pheaktra told AFP that they were sending back the rubbish to its origins.

In a well-publicized case in May, the Philippines sent 69 containers of household waste and electronic garbage - which had been marked as recyclable plastics - back to Canada, ending a protracted diplomatic spat.

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Cambodia has taken this blow and retaliated, and Transparency International Cambodia executive director Preap Kol said that this trash "delivery" was a "serious insult". Waste management was reoriented to other countries, such as Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, which in turn also cease to provide such services. With little public awareness or the infrastructure to deal with the issue, the last thing they need is another country's waste.

The containers had been arriving over a period since October 2018, Nhim said.

A government committee is making an effort to find out why the containers were shipped to them in the first place. "We will send those rubbish-filled containers back to their original sources".

Indonesia announced this month it was returning dozens of containers full of waste to France and other developed nations while neighbouring Malaysia said in May it was shipping 450 tonnes of imported plastic waste back to the countries that sent it.

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