Cambodia probes Chinese firm over illegal waste imports

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Cambodia will send 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste back to the United States and Canada, an official said on Wednesday, the latest Southeast Asian country to signal it will not accept rubbish shipped from Western nations.

In this Tuesday, July 16, 2019, photo, containers loaded with plastic waste are shown in Sihanoukville Port, Cambodia.

The complications began previous year when China banned foreign plastic waste shipment imports, throwing global recycling into chaos.

Kun Nhim, director general of Cambodia's General Department of Customs and Excise, told Reuters that a Chinese firm based in Cambodia had imported the waste, which was discovered this week in 83 shipping containers at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.

Net Pheaktra reported that 70 containers were sent from the United States and 13 came from Canada.

This simply adds to the country's domestic issues with creating plastic waste -there's little infrastructure in place and nearly no general awareness of the pressing issue.

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Prime Minister Hun Sen has insisted that Cambodia will not become a dumpsite for waste imported from foreign countries.

The customs ministry is now conducting an investigation into how the containers ended up in Cambodia, and which companies or groups are behind the import.

He said it remains to be seen whether the trash can be sent back to the countries of origin. The country's environment ministry spokesperson, Neth Pheaktra told AFP that they were sending back the rubbish to its origins.

According to him, 83 of the container which profit for the period from October 2018 to the present, contain the only plastic waste and no toxic materials or radioactive substances.

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

In Cambodia the problem of plastic waste in the country is very serious and the public is poorly informed about the problem or the infrastructure to address it.

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