Malaysia PM says global garbage trade 'grossly unfair'

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TOKYO (AP) — The practice of advanced countries such as the U.S., Canada and Japan sending their non-recyclable waste to poorer countries is "grossly unfair" and should stop, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Thursday.

Mahathir comments during a visit to Tokyo on came days after his government announced plans to return thousands of tons of imported plastic waste back to where it came from.

"It is grossly unfair for rich countries to send their waste to poor countries simply because poor countries have no choice and maybe it contributes a little to their economy," Mahathir said at a news conference. "We don't need your waste because our own waste is enough to give us problems."

China banned the import of plastic waste last year, leading several Southeast Asian nations to become new targets.

Japan, a major producer of plastic waste, used to export 1.5 million tons per year, mostly to China. It now ships some to other countries, including Malaysia, while the government and industry seek ways of dealing with the problem at home. Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada has said he will look into any illegal shipments.

In the Philippines, a cargo ship arrived in a northern port on Thursday to pick up and return 69 containers of garbage to Canada. Officials say the trash was shipped illegally to the Philippines in 2013-2014.

"You give us the waste then you are going to have us insist that we pollute the environment by getting rid of the waste," Mahathir said. "But please remember that when you pollute one part of the world you pollute the rest of the world also."

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