Malaysia has repatriated 3,737 metric tonnes of plastic waste to mainly rich countries since the third quarter of 2019, the country’s environment minister said.

The country has successfully shipped out 150 containers of waste following strict enforcement at key Malaysian ports to prevent plastic waste being smuggled into the country and shut down illegal plastic recycling factories.

Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin told local reporters on Sunday: “If people want to see us as the rubbish dump of the world, you dream on.

“Our position is very firm. We just want to send back (the waste) and we just want to give a message that Malaysia is not the dumping site of the world.”

The containers were destined for their countries of origin, with the highest numbers heading to France, the UK, the US, and Canada.

France was sent back 43 containers of waste, while 42 were returned to the UK, 17 to the US, 11 to Canada, 10 to Spain, and the rest were sent to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Lithuania.

Ms Yeo added Malaysia did not pay to send the containers back, as all costs were borne by importers and shipping lines, reported local news site Free Malaysia Today.