efe-epaSydney, Australia

The Australian government on Tuesday announced a plan to encourage the recycling of plastic waste following controversy after containers filled with Australian garbage that had been exported to Asian countries were returned to the country.

"We are committed to protecting our nation's environment while also building our capacity to turn recycling into products that people want and need," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while announcing an initial investment of 20 million Australian dollars ($13.5 million) for the plan.

The investment into innovative projects to recycle waste, which will also create local jobs, comes as part of the federal government’s commitment to the Australian states and territories to develop a timetable for a ban on the export of plastic, paper, glass and tire waste.

Of the on average 103 kilograms (227 pounds) of plastic waste generated annually per person in Australia, only 12 percent are recycled, most of them abroad, according to government figures.

Morrison also announced additional funding of $7.3 million for mineral recycling projects.

Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia or the Philippines have returned tons of undeclared waste products to nations such as the United States or Australia this year as part of their measures against illegally-imported refuse. EFEEPA