KUALA LANGAT: Malaysia, which is becoming a dumping ground for plastic waste by other countries, will slap a levy on such imports to halt the growing environmental problem.
The situation became critical after China banned plastic imports, leading to a huge impact on the global recycling system.
Countries such as Britain have begun to look to other places such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to offload such wastes.
Here in Kuala Langat for example, which is a town about 60km away from Kuala Lumpur, it has emerged as a hotbed of plastic waste with about 40 unlicensed factories processing imported plastic.
For months, residents have been complaining of health and pollution problems which they believed originated from these factories operating close to their neighbourhoods.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, who made a spot check here yesterday, announced that a levy would be imposed at RM15 per tonne of plastic waste after Oct 23, when the freeze on approved permits (AP) on plastic waste import ends.
(On July 23, the ministry revoked the AP on plastic waste import of 114 plastic waste companies and factories all over Malaysia for three months in order to allow the authorities to look into the plastic waste issue.)
“Malaysian factories are currently able to import plastic for free. So now we are going to put a levy on them,” she said.
Furthermore, the requirements for factories to obtain permits to import plastic waste would also be tightened, she told reporters yesterday.
The process to obtain an AP on plastic waste imports will also be made more stringent with the addition of new criteria that must be met before permits are issued to plastic waste factories.
“The names of companies that import and export plastic must be listed to show the legitimacy of the business. Applicants must also get the approval of Mida (Malaysian Investment Development Authority) in order to get the AP,” she said.
Zuraida said that the number of APs issued would be cross-checked with the Customs Department’s capacity to receive plastic waste at the ports. The monitoring process would also be tightened with the ministry looking out for illegal activities linked to this, she added.
Zuraida noted that laws were already in place to regulate plastic waste factories.
“However, unlicensed factories did not adhere to them,” she said.
Zuraida said that the ministry would be closing down 24 unlicensed factories in Kuala Langat.
“By principle we have agreed to close them down but what we want is to discuss with them to find a way on how to get rid of their plastic waste, which could be sold to licensed factories.
“We also need to set a time frame for when they should start and end the process,” she said.