Malaysia: Call to ban import of plastic waste

wani muthiah The Star 27 Sep 18;

KLANG: The government should stop the import of plastic waste instead of imposing a RM15 levy for every tonne of the scrap brought into Malaysia, says the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).

“CAP calls for a total ban on the import of plastic waste to protect public health and our environment.

“CAP is very frustrated with the Malaysian government because it does not recognise the scale of the problem,” association president S.M. Mohamed Idris said in a statement yesterday.

On Tuesday, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamarudin said a RM15 levy would be imposed when the freeze on approved permits (APs) on plastic waste import ends on Oct 23.

The imported garbage, mostly plastic, is believed to be imported from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Malaysia is slowly becoming a recycling hub for foreign trash material since China banned the import of plastic waste.

Mohamed Idris said CAP had anticipated such issues arising in Malaysia after the China ban and had written to several ministries and the National Solid Waste Man­agement Department about its concerns.

According to him, the department had talked about a ruling to control plastic waste import and imposing stringent requirements on premises and import licences.

“However, the control measures and enforcement have proven inadequate, based on the pollution and mushrooming of illegal recycling factories in many parts of Malay­sia,” he said.

Fomca president Datuk N. Mari­muthu said Malaysia already had problems with domestic garbage disposal and should not take on additional trash from other countries.

“We have a clear food wastage issue in our country with people dumping it all over the place. This is threatening to contaminate our water sources,” he said.

Marimuthu said the government must take a clear stand and do what was right for the nation.

“Why talk about imposing the RM15 levy? Just stop importing garbage. Malaysia cannot be a dumping ground as we already have far too much of our own trash,” he said.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia honorary secretary Meenakshi Raman concurred, saying: “It is not about imposing levies; it is about not allowing the waste to come into the country at all.”

If other countries banned garbage import, she added, there was no reason for Malaysia to become an importer of waste.

The government’s priority should be protecting the environment and public health, she said.

Levy for plastic waste imports
wani muthiah, arnold loh, fatimah zainal, and rashvinjeet s. bedi The Star 26 Sep 18;

KUALA LANGAT: Malaysia, which is becoming a dumping ground for plastic waste by other countries, will slap a levy on such imports to halt the growing environmental problem.

The situation became critical after China banned plastic imports, leading to a huge impact on the global recycling system.

Countries such as Britain have begun to look to other places such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to offload such wastes.

Here in Kuala Langat for example, which is a town about 60km away from Kuala Lumpur, it has emerged as a hotbed of plastic waste with about 40 unlicensed factories processing imported plastic.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, who made a spot check here yesterday, announced that a levy would be imposed at RM15 per tonne of plastic waste after Oct 23, when the freeze on approved permits (AP) on plastic waste import ends.

(On July 23, the ministry revoked the AP on plastic waste import of 114 plastic waste companies and factories all over Malaysia for three months in order to allow the authorities to look into the plastic waste issue.)

“Malaysian factories are currently able to import plastic for free. So now we are going to put a levy on them,” she said.

Furthermore, the requirements for factories to obtain permits to import plastic waste would also be tightened, she told reporters yesterday.

The process to obtain an AP on plastic waste imports will also be made more stringent with the addition of new criteria that must be met before permits are issued to plastic waste factories.

“The names of companies that import and export plastic must be listed to show the legitimacy of the business. Applicants must also get the approval of Mida (Malaysian Investment Development Authority) in order to get the AP,” she said.

Zuraida said that the number of APs issued would be cross-checked with the Customs Department’s capacity to receive plastic waste at the ports. The monitoring process would also be tightened with the ministry looking out for illegal activities linked to this, she added.

Zuraida noted that laws were already in place to regulate plastic waste factories.

“However, unlicensed factories did not adhere to them,” she said.

Zuraida said that the ministry would be closing down 24 unlicensed factories in Kuala Langat.

“By principle we have agreed to close them down but what we want is to discuss with them to find a way on how to get rid of their plastic waste, which could be sold to licensed factories.

“We also need to set a time frame for when they should start and end the process,” she said.

'Halt plastic waste processing activities at illegal factories immediately'
Dawn Chan New Straits Times 28 Sep 18;

SHAH ALAM: A Kuala Langat-based environmental group has called for a concerted effort by the authorities to immediately halt all plastic waste processing activities in the district which are causing air pollution and endangering the lives of the local community.

A spokesperson of the Kuala Langat Action Group, which was set up to highlight the issue to the authorities, said little has changed since the recent visit by the Housing and Local Government minister, Zuraida Kamaruddin, who had addressed the issue and ordered a meeting to be called in a weeks’ time.

The spokesperson, who declined to be named, said Zuraida’s visit on Tuesday to several illegal factories processing the plastic waste sourced from overseas and unauthorised sites where the materials were dumped did nothing to put fear in the operators.

“Our observation showed that there are still illegal factories processing the plastic waste and there are still containers being sent to the premises. The factory operators know we are watching them and they have also changed their operating hours.

“It is high time that the authorities such as the Kuala Langat Municipal Council (MDKL), the Department of Environment and the district and land office take stern action against the illegal operators. I think there is a lack of supervision here and the culprits should not be given just a slap on the wrist.

“The district office should seal the illegal premises immediately and penalise the land owners for allowing such activities to take place on the property,” he told the New Straits Times Press today.

He added that members of the group were actively monitoring the activities taking place at the illegal factories in a bid to build a strong case with hopes that the authorities will put a stop to it the soonest possible.

Proof such as photographic and video evidences were being collected to show that illegal factory operators did not fear the authorities, he said.

On Tuesday, Zuraida had called for a ministerial level meeting to be held with 54 factories processing plastic waste operating in MDKL’s jurisdiction, out of which 13 were licensed after they were legalised by the state government while 17 had been ordered to shut.

Following a coordination meeting at the municipal council, Zuraida ordered a meeting to be held with all parties on Oct 2 and it will be chaired by the National Solid Waste Management Department director-general Ismail Mokhtar.

Zuraida said in the Oct 2 meeting, discussions would revolve around finding ways to dispose the existing plastic waste at the illegal factories, taking over of the materials from unlicensed parties by licensed factories and the time frame of the actions.