KUALA LUMPUR: The government has frozen permits for local operators to import plastic waste for recycling in the country.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the permits to setup plastic-recycling factories had also been suspended until a further decision is made from a special committee involving five ministries.
“The committee will to look into ways to resolve the issue of how to handle plastic waste in the country,” she said to a supplementary question by Ma’mun Sulaiman (WARISAN-Kalabakan) at the Dewan Rakyat today.
Ma’mun in his supplementary question sought clarification on the immediate steps taken by the government to tackle the problem of plastic waste being imported into Malaysia by illegal recycling factories.
In reply to Ma’mun’s original question on the issue, Yeo said the ministry viewed the matter seriously, with the closing down of 30 such illegal factories, especially in Kuala Langat, Selangor.
“We do not only seize, but also cut the water and electricity supplies, and detain them (factory operators) under Section 37C of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, so that they are given the appropriate sentence,” she said.
In reply to a supplementary question from Lim Kit Siang (PH DAP-Iskandar Puteri), Yeo said the government needed to come up with a comprehensive solution on the matter because the plastic industry contributes RM30 billion to the country.
She said a balanced approach was needed that take into consideration the interests of the public, the environment and the industry players, while preventing Malaysia as well as ASEAN nations from being turned into a dumping ground for advanced countries’s plastic waste.
“The problem of plastic (waste) is expected to increase with the rise of global population to 10 billion by 2020. As a result, we cannot just sit still and wait for the matter to become a major issue.
“Studies have shown that the amount of plastic in the ocean would equal that of the entire fish (population in the sea) by 2050 if no solution is taken comprehensively by related parties and countries,” she pointed out.
To Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said’s (BN-Kuala Krau) supplementary question on the need for incentives to be given to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for their plastic waste cleanup activities, Yeo said the ministry was more focused on public-awareness campaigns.
She added that incentives could be proposed for collaborative efforts by NGOs with the government on public awareness campaigns to curb plastic use.