I APPLAUD Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin for doing a great job in clamping down on illegal plastic recycling factories and banning the import of plastic waste. Stopping the issuance of new licences is also a major deterrent to this plastic scourge. Seeing her and her ministry working hard to stop pollution and climate change gives us all the reassurance that our nation now has a good chance of preventing further damage to the environment.
Pollution and climate change is devastating the earth and global warming is happening faster than earlier thought by scientists. Although great work has been done recently, it is only on the local front. YB Yeo, her ministry and the government need to escalate it further onto the international stage to make a bigger dent and impact for a cleaner environment.
Imported plastic waste must be stopped at its source. It is not enough to stop the import of plastic waste to our shores. Illegal factories will pop up once again if plastics from abroad keep flowing in.
The ministry and government must engage with their counterparts in developed nations and strongly reproach them on this irresponsible and unscrupulous act. For years, they have deceitfully held on to a moral high ground of being paragons of recycling and the environment. At the same time, perched high on their mound of plastic, they preached and admonished developing nations on the wanton use, disposal and recycling of plastics.
If these developed nations justify their export of plastic to developing nations by claiming it creates jobs, it must be pointed out that the jobs created are mainly low paying manual work and done in low tech factories. The exported plastics are low grade or low value plastics because the high grade ones are kept and recycled in their own countries.
The imported plastic that does not or cannot be recycled gets burnt, buried in landfills or in rivers and onto the oceans. These developed nations must recycle all their own plastic and not get off scot free. They have the finances and technology and must not shirk off their responsibility just because it is more convenient and cheaper to do it in developing countries.
But if there is a mutual agreement between developed and developing countries on plastic recycling, developed nations must provide grants, cheap loans, training, know-how and advanced technology to build factories to handle and recycle plastic more efficiently in a cleaner and better environment.
Naturally, this vital issue cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of the government. Local environmental NGOs must similarly engage and reveal to their peer organisations in developed nations of this inexcusable export of plastic.
This is a global problem and locally here, we must also minimise the use of plastic and recycle as much as possible.
KOO WEE HON