Last week (20th January) Malaysia returned 150 containers of waste plastic and Yeo Bee Yin, the Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change stated that Malaysia would take “steps to ensure” the country “does not become the garbage dump of the world”.

The UK government said it received a request from Malaysian authorities last year to repatriate the waste and some containers had already arrived back.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We continue to work with the shipping lines and Malaysian authorities to ensure all waste is brought back as soon as possible.”

The Environment Agency said the returned waste was the responsibility of the private companies that exported it and it must be handled according to UK regulations. A spokesman added that anyone found guilty of exporting waste illegally could face a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine.

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