THE government will ban import of all non-recyclable solid waste, particularly plastic, says Yeo Bee Yin.
The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister said the measures were taken to ensure the country’s solid waste was well managed and to reduce plastic pollution, as well as ensuring Malaysia was not a dumping ground for waste from developed countries.
“Plastic waste are varied, some can be recycled, but there is mixed plastic waste that cannot and is usually used by illegal factories.
“So any solid waste that cannot be properly recycled and does not follow the Environmental Quality Act will be banned,” she said during the ministers’ question time session.
She was replying to Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (PAS-Rantau Panjang) who wanted to know if the government intended to impose a total ban on imports of solid waste into the country.
To another question, Yeo said her ministry was looking into reviewing acts related to the environment.
Met at the Parliament lobby, Yeo said although the government could ban the import of plastic waste, it would not solve the issue as countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam were still importing it.
“We need to know that the oceans are connected and although one country doesn’t take the waste, it will still end up in other places.
“The most effective way is for developed countries to stop exporting their non-recyclable plastic material,” she said.
Recently, The Star highlighted the issue that Malaysia has become a dumping ground for plastic waste by other countries 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 to offload such wastes.
Kuala Langat has emerged as a hotbed of plastic waste with about 40 unlicensed factories processing imported plastic.
Earlier, Yeo said the Cabinet has decided to set up a joint ministerial committee to look into ways of dealing with the import of plastic waste into the country.
She said the committee comprises her ministry, Housing and Local Government, International Trade and Industry, as well as Water, Land and Natural Resources.
“The Housing and Local Government Ministry will be the main coordinator.
“We will do our best and are committed to ensure that Malaysia will not be a dumping ground of plastic waste for advanced nations,” she said, adding that the committee would meet on Oct 26 to discuss the issue.
Yeo said the issue of imported plastic waste has become more serious due to China’s ban on such material.
She said her ministry, through joint enforcement operations with other agencies, have conducted raids on illegal factories processing plastic waste.
“Some 30 illegal factories have been closed.
“I have also told the agencies to nab the operators of these factories, investigate and bring them to court to ensure they are punished in accordance to the law,” she said.