GEORGE TOWN: About 100 containers of plastic waste are being held at the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT), awaiting Customs and port clearance to be sent to their country of origin.
This is a big drop from the almost 1,000 containers sitting at NBCT about a year ago.
“Most of them have been sent back to their country of origin since last year. Now, there are only about 100 containers left at the port, ” said Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) chief executive officer Datuk Sasedharan Vasudevan.
He said the containers belonged to importers with valid licences.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a reduction of such containers coming into the port as freight and shipping charges have increased two-fold.
“It is actually not a wise move to bring in containers during this period as shipping charges, from roughly US$700 per container, have increased to US$1,200 due to a shortage of containers, ” he said previously.
The turnover of most containers was taking a longer time due to the pandemic and restricted movement of container traffic in ports all over.
“The shortage of containers has created an artificial demand where shipping charges have increased and importers are shying away from bringing in any plastic waste.
“The Customs Department, too, has reduced the issue of fraud where importers deliberately misfiled containers under different codes to bring the plastic waste in, ” he said.
As much as 153,441 metric tonnes of plastic waste were imported through NBCT between August 2019 and August 2020.
About 800 containers of plastic waste were discovered waiting to be brought into the country. They were from Britain, Hong Kong, Japan and Germany.
Most of them were sent back after they were cleared by the Customs Department.
In February this year, Penang Environment Department director Sharifah Zakiah Syed Sahab said more than 200 containers of plastic waste from all over the world were still stuck at NBCT.
It was reported on May 31,2019 that 265 cargo containers filled with rotting food, organic matter and plastic waste were “stranded” there.
On June 15 that year, Penang Customs uncovered another 132 containers filled with plastic waste at NBCT.
Each 40-foot container can fit 10 to 15 tonnes of goods.
In Johor Baru, VENESA DEVI reports on several incidents where hazardous waste and plastic were illegally sent to Malaysia via ports in Johor in 2019 and 2020, as stated by state health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan.
“Some of the waste has been returned to their country of origin while some are still in the process of being sent back, ” he said.
“The Customs Department and the Department of Environment are working together on these matters.”