Few factories complying with plastic waste regulations

PUTRAJAYA: Only 19 out of 114 plastic waste AP holders pass the Housing and Local Government Ministry’s requirements to import plastic scraps into the country, says minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.

She said only 54 out of all the AP holders were active.

Speaking during a town hall session on plastic waste last night, Zuraida said she visited several of these factories in Kedah and Penang to see if they were complying with the government’s regulations.

“If all is okay, we will allow them to import plastic waste,” she said.

Zuraida said the government only allowed the import of “clean” plastic waste from developed countries that could be recycled.

“We have never allowed the import of plastic rubbish,” she said.

There are currently 18 regulations which must be followed by AP holders to import plastic waste.

Zuraida said that there was potential for the industry to contri­bute to the economy.

“But we need to have tight regulations,” she added.

Fraudulent declaration was a possibility but, she said, the Customs Department had to be trained to tell the difference between clean plastic waste and rubbish which were brought in containers through ports.

Besides government officials, the packed townhall session was attended by plastic recycling players and non-governmental organisations.

There were tense moments during the meeting when a few activists expressed frustration over what they described as the government’s inaction to solve the issues.

Those representing the industry defended their work and said they also wanted the illegal factories to be shut down.

In July last year, the ministry announced the freezing of plastic waste imports permit following serious incidents of pollution in Kuala Langat, Selangor, from illegal factories processing imported plastic waste.

The government has also established a joint ministerial committee made up of four ministries to look into the issue.

They are the Housing and Local Government Ministry; Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry; International Trade and Industry Ministry; and the Energy, Techno­logy, Science, Climate Change and Environment Ministry.

China banned plastic imports in 2018, leading to a huge impact on the global recycling system.

This led to a number of Chinese companies relocating their operations to Malaysia, with some setting up shop in the country as soon as the Chinese government announced the ban in 2017.

According to official statistics, the value of imported plastic waste increased from RM274mil in 2016 to RM490mil the following year.

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