Plastic scrap from US under probe


Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man. -filepic

PETALING JAYA: The Environment and Water Ministry will investigate a report claiming that a US-based company had sent a shipment of “bales of plastic scrap” to Malaysia last month, says Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

“I am getting information about this. I will make this known at a later date, ” he said when contacted.

The minister was asked to respond to a New York Times report, quoting information provided by Material Research, a research firm based in Maine, that Sigma Recycling Inc in Georgia had sent plastic scrap to Malaysia.

According to the report, the data provided by Material Research stated the company had engaged a cargo ship operated by French shipping company CMA CGM.

The shipment left Los Angeles on Feb 14 and was supposed to have arrived in Malaysia in late February.

According to Basel Action Network, a group monitoring plastic exports, such shipments to Malaysia had gone up from 8,600 metric tonnes in December 2020 to 9,800 tonnes in January 2021.

The recent amendment to the plastic waste classification by the Basel Convention, which was ratified by 187 countries, requires a “prior informed consent (PIC)” from the country importing the plastic waste before any cross-border waste movement is conducted. However, the United States has yet to ratify the convention.

Recent data from the US Commerce Department showed that the United States continues to export about 28,000 metric tonnes per month of its plastic waste to developing countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Last August, Tuan Ibrahim assured Malaysia will not be “the world’s garbage bin”, warning that stern action will be taken against those who attempt to bring in containers filled with toxic or plastic waste.

Last year, the Department of Environment returned 254 containers of plastic waste, weighing 5,512 metric tonnes, to their respective countries of origin.

Meanwhile, In Kuala Terengganu, Tuan Ibrahim said the water levels at all dams nationwide are still at a comfortable level.

He told Bernama that despite the country facing a hot and dry spell, the water levels at all the dams are sufficient to meet the needs of the people.

“The Malaysian Meteorological (Department) forecast that the current hot weather this year is not as bad as last year, and the current humidity level is relatively high. There were some water supply disruption issues in Baling, Kedah, but the matter was resolved by the state government.

“Overall, the water levels at the dams in Kedah are still good. We admit there are places experiencing water shortage issues and we take action through water utility companies in the state by sending water to consumers via tanker lorries, ” he said.

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