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Call to check recyclers of plastic waste for compliance

PETALING JAYA: Imports of plastic waste, even those that are regulated, could have detrimental effects on the environment.

An environmentalist said livestock could be affected and by extension, humans as well.

In the long term, it could be catastrophic, Greenpeace Malaysia campaigner Heng Kiah Chun said.

“We already have a huge amount of waste, some of which is contaminated. However, only a little of it is actually recycled.”

Heng was responding to a recent statement by Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man stating that the government “would not allow Malaysia to become the world’s dumping ground”.

But the import of clean plastic waste for recycling will continue to be allowed, the minister added.

Heng said the high incidence of pollution and its impact on health and the environment should serve as a lesson on the risks unregulated recycling activities can have on the community.

“Developed countries should stop making other countries responsible for addressing their own plastic waste problem,” he said.

According to several reports, Malaysia imported about 20,000 tonnes of plastic waste every month in 2017. The imports rose sharply to 110,000 tonnes a month early the following year.

Heng said the government, having allowed the import of plastic waste, will now have to monitor importers and recyclers to ensure compliance to all regulations.

“If the policies and enforcement are not stringent enough, we will face the problem of waste-dumping.”

He pointed out that battling the plastic waste problem has become more intense after China stopped importing such waste from the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States.

Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Malaysia chief executive officer Andrew Sebastian said many questions on how clean the waste and the recycling process are remain unanswered.

“There is a lot of work for the Department of Environment. It should get more resources to monitor the process end-to-end.”

However, he said the long term plan should be to stop the import of plastic waste altogether.

“Other countries are looking at us as the dumping ground for plastic waste, and that is not a good thing.”

Sebastian said importers who fail to follow procedures should be made to send their imported waste back to the exporting country.

Environment interest group EcoKnights vice-president Amlir Ayat said there should be no serious issues with plastics that meet international and local standards.

“However, Malaysia still has a long way to go when it comes to the handling of these materials.”



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