Cambodia vows to send back plastic waste

Cambodia plans to send 83 shipping containers packed with plastic rubbish back to an unnamed country of origin and fine the importer after authorities discovered the containers' contents at a port.

The Environment Ministry announcement comes amid growing public criticism in Southeast Asian nations of waste imports from industrialised countries.

Photos published by Cambodian media show containers at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, on the country's south-western coast, packed with bales of discarded plastic material.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said officials were investigating the origin of the plastic waste so it could be sent back to the source country.

"The authorities will find out where these waste-filled containers came from. We will also-according to our law-fine the company found to have imported the plastic waste," Pheaktra said.

"Cambodia is not a dump site."

Officials opened the containers, labelled as containing raw recycling products, on Tuesday after they had been sitting at the port for months. Cambodia banned the importing of plastic waste two decades ago, Pheaktra said.

Last week, Indonesia said it would send back more than 210 tonnes of trash to Australia after it was found to contain banned materials including household garbage and used electronics.