Thailand and Vietnam have also introduced similar regulation as countries in the region began fighting a problem, which first arose early past year when China stopped accepting plastic waste from the rest of the world.
Malaysian authorities have not yet finished inspecting all the waste, but they have already identified rubbish to return to the United Kingdom, the US, Japan, China, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Bangladesh and France.
China, which had earlier taken in large amounts of plastic for recycling, banned its imports previous year, saying it wanted to improve its own environment. "Malaysia will not be a dumping ground to the world ... we will fight back".
"These containers are filled with contaminated, non-homogenous, low-quality, non-recyclable plastic waste, and are routed to processing facilities which do not have the technology to recycle in an environmentally sound manner", the ministry said. "We will send back [the waste] to the original countries".
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept them. In April, officials discovered this waste coming from Spain, Germany, Australia, the US, and the U.K. Malaysian officials were sure to send that back, too.
The build-up of waste and the creation of a major illegal recycling industry in the country are a knock-on effect of China's ban on the importation of plastic waste earlier this year.
The country's move to ship the refuse back was "only a symbolic public stunt which does not solve the problem", Lee said.
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Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction done without government consent.
The Malaysian government has shut down over 150 illegal recycling facilities since last July.
"The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by a foreign nation", said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.
Yeo said about 123 containers had been inspected by a special task force set up about a month ago, with 60 of them containing 3,000 tonnes of plastic, which are expected to be sent back to their countries of origin after closer inspection.
Environment minister called waste importers "traitors" who don't care about the country's long-term sustainability.
In Port Klang, Yeo said citizens in rich nations diligently separate their waste for recycling, but the garbage ends up being dumped in developing nations where they are recycled illegally, causing environmental and health hazards.
"We urge the developed countries to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping the garbage out to the developing countries", she said, calling such practices "unfair and uncivilized".