Cambodia is protesting 1,600 tons of waste from Canada and the US that has arrived on its shores illegally. 

According to TVA, at one of the south Asian country’s principal ports, 83 containers containing plastic waste have been found. Thirteen of the 83 containers came from Canada. 

“Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and… any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country,” said Cambodia’s Environment Ministry spokesperson, Neth Pheaktra. 

Cambodia rejects shipments of waste and recyclables as are an increasing number of other south-eastern Asian states like Thailand and Malaysia. Recently, China has started to refuse waste, forcing countries like Canada and the US to find new grounds for the disposal of their garbage. 

Pheaktra announced that a committee was being organized to investigate the reasons for the waste’s arrival. Any companies implicated in the illegal arrival of waste may face criminal charges. 

Cambodia is already in the midst of its own waste problems. The lack of water access for millions of Cambodian’s forces families to live entirely on plastic water bottles, which subsequently come to clog streets and waterways. 

As one Guardian reporter commented in 2018, “it is hard to imagine that the sea is there at all. Instead, there is dense layer upon layer of plastic waste clogging the water, piling up around poles that support the wooden homes, carpeting the beach.”

With about 8-million tonnes ending up in the sea, waste has become an increasing problem not just for Cambodia and its neighbouring nations, but the world.