The 10-member Asean bloc reiterated its readiness to work with the international community to enhance cooperation to stop illegal traffic of hazardous chemicals and wastes, in line with agreed international frameworks.
In a joint statement, Asean foreign ministers expressed their concern on the growing threat and adverse effects on human health and the environment posed by the increased illegal movement of wastes in the region.
“We reject illegal trans-boundary movement of wastes to our region and emphasise that all states take necessary measures to ensure environmentally sound management of hazardous and chemical wastes in their respective jurisdictions.
“It is also to ensure the protection of human health and the environment, and enhance cooperation with other jurisdictions, including through the exchange of relevant information and capacity building,” it said.
The statement with the heading “Illegal Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and Other Wastes in Southeast Asia” was released in conjunction with the 52nd Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Post-Ministerial Conferences and Related Meetings in Bangkok.
The statement was issued following Asean member countries receiving a lot of containers carrying waste, some toxic, in recent months.
The foreign ministers said there is a need to promote a Southeast Asia region that is free from illegal trans-boundary movement of wastes.
Several Asean countries have become rich countries’ rubbish dumps, including Malaysia, the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia.
In May, Malaysia announced that it will send back as much as 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste to the countries of origin.
In June, the Philippines’ government said it would hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if the country refuses to accept them.
Cambodia said it would return 1,600 tonnes of illegal plastic waste found in shipping containers.
In late July, Indonesia returned seven containers of illegally imported waste to France and Hong Kong from its Batam island port.