SEREMBAN: The authorities have shut down 139 plastic recycling premises which had either been operating illegally or contravened provisions in the Environment Quality Act since last July after an estimated 750,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste were shipped into the country.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change minister Yeo Bee Yin said the authorities had inspected 273 premises since then and of these, 108 were found to be unlicensed.
"We stopped issuing permits to import plastic waste in July upon discovering that there was an influx of such waste into the country.
"We need to carry out these checks as we are still reeling from the aftermath of so much plastic waste brought in illegally and we can see the effects on the environment," she said after leading raids at three premises at the Senawang Industrial area here on Monday (Feb 25).
Yeo said she was also glad to note that authorities had exceeded their KPI of shutting down 100 illegal premises by the first quarter of this year.
"I am happy that we managed to close 139 premises. I would also like to remind those who are planning to open plastic recycling premises illegally to drop the idea because we will come down hard on you," she said.
Yeo said ministry officials have since hauled four operators to court and will charge another 44 soon.
The courts had imposed fines totalling RM389,000 and one-day jail terms against the wrongdoers.
"Based on our estimates, we should be able to collect some RM3mil in fines from the remaining 44 illegal operators," she said.
Selangor had the highest number of premises shut down with 78 followed by Perak (16), Kedah (15), Negri Sembilan (12) and Penang (10).
There were no illegal plastic recycling premises found in Malacca, Perlis, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Terengganu, Sarawak and Labuan.
On the raids earlier, Yeo said two of the three premises were found to have imported plastic waste illegally.
"We have reason to believe that they did not have permits to bring in the plastic waste," she added.