KUALA LANGAT: Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin is proposing that a levy be imposed on plastic waste imports in a bid to better manage the problem of plastic pollution from the recycling industry.
She said while Malaysian factories were currently importing plastic for free, this was set to change soon as the government planned to impose a levy of RM15 per tonne.
Local factories have been importing and recycling plastic waste from countries like Western countries after China banned imports of such plastic waste. There have been reports of serious pollution, including in Kuala Langat district (around Banting town).
"I hear it's a very lucrative business.
"Now we are going to put a levy on them. Importers will have to immediately comply with this levy once it's in place," she told reporters after meeting with various agencies at the Kuala Langat District Council here on Tuesday (Sept 25).
The process to obtain approved permits (AP) on plastic waste imports will also be made more stringent before permits were issued to plastic waste factories, she said.
According to Zuraida, there were 114 plastic recycling factories that are active all over Malaysia. (The country is becoming one of the hubs to process waste plastic from western countries that had been rejected by China.)
"The names of companies that import plastic and export plastic must be listed down to show how genuine the business is.
"The applicants must also get the approval of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) in order to get the AP," she said.
Zuraida added that the APs issued by her Ministry will be made to tally with the Customs Department's capacity to receive plastic waste at the ports.
"Previously, there was no tally between the permits issued and the Customs Department's capacity," she pointed out.
In July, the Ministry revoked the AP on plastic waste imports, affecting 114 legal plastic waste factories all over Malaysia for three months up till Oct 23.
The move was taken after reports of serious pollution in Kuala Langat caused by factories processing plastic waste.
In Kuala Langat alone, there were 24 illegal plastic waste factories, with another 17 already ordered to close down, she said.
In addition, there are 13 plastic waste factories that are operating legally in Kuala Langat.
All of these factories will be called for a meeting with the Ministry on Oct 2.