KUALA LUMPUR: What action is being taken to deal with the deluge of plastic waste being processed by illegal waste processing factories across the country? That's what Charles Santiago, the MP for Klang, had asked the Housing and Local Government Ministry in Parliament.
Today (Nov 15) that question was answered by the Minister, Zuraida Kamaruddin, who told the Dewan Rakyat that,"We have issued a circular to all local councils, especially in Selangor and Penang, to shut down all illegal plastic factories."
She added that all (legal) plastic waste factories will need to get approval from the Ministry when applying for new approved permits (AP) to import plastic waste.
In her reply to the supplementary question from Charles during Question Time, Zuraida said the Ministry had issued a new circular to all local councils stating that all new licence applications required prior approval from the Ministry.
She added that license applications could be made online, and that importers needed to abide by all the rules and regulations.
Zuraida said a special committee had been set up to inspect a total of 114 licensed factories that imported plastic waste but found that only eight met with all the regulations set by the Ministry.
She added that the Cabinet had tasked four ministries with the task of setting the direction of plastic waste import, after discovering that there was high business potential worth RM30bil in processing them.
Starting from Jan 2018, China has banned the import of plastic waste (for reprocessing) from Western countries, citing environmental concerns.
Much of the plastic waste has been redirected to South-East Asia, including Malaysia, for processing, raising fears of pollution from toxins.
On Sept 25, it was reported that Zuraida said the government planned to impose a levy of RM15 per tonne of plastic waste imported. She 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.
On Oct 26, Zuraida was reported to say that Malaysia has issued a "permanent ban" on the import of plastic waste effective Friday (Oct 26), following adverse after it was widely shared on social media that Malaysia had become a dumping ground for plastic waste from developed countries.
Today (Nov 15), Zuraida said that "We cannot take it (the plastic waste processing industry) lightly as it is a huge income for our country.
"As we strengthen our rules and procedures, the plastic that we allow to import should be of (the) high quality (type) and industry plastic.
"But the terminology we often use, which is plastic waste, it looks at rubbish and trash. This is something that we will control more strictly.
"We will ensure that the plastic waste is of high quality and can be processed for the use of consumers and can generate revenues worth RM30bil for our country.
"In the long run, we do not want miss this chance and income opportunity.
"All the relevant ministries have agreed for a phasing-out (period) and to give a time frame to reduce import and increase the process of local plastic in our factories," she said.
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