Kepong MP wants heads to roll over new plastic dumping claim

Justin Ong
Local authorities inspect the premises of a plastic recycling plant in Kuala Langat on July 24, 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Local enforcers and the illegal plastic recycling factories they are meant to police must both be punished over a new report that New Zealand plastic waste shipments to Malaysia tripled this year, said Lim Lip Eng.

The Kepong MP said the report by RadioNZ last week was simply a continuation of the problem unearthed in July, after it was discovered Malaysia was now the main destination for recyclable plastic waste from the UK.

The development coincided with China’s decision to ban such imports, leading to suspicions that Chinese firms were diverting the shipments here.

Lim said that since local authorities appeared incapable of regulating the illegal factories purporting to be plastic recyclers here, all that are discovered must be shut down.

“Enforcement officers who have been compromised are to be disciplined. It is too much of a coincidence that the illegal factories are closed when DoE conducts their raids,” he said in a statement.

Industry sources and lawmakers previously suspected corruption due to the sudden mushrooming of these factories in Selangor.

Lim also urged the Customs Department to determine the magnitude of the problem by tracking the amount of recyclable waste shipped here so far from all over the world.

“Our local environment and the health of our people are in danger. We cannot continue to allow this to happen. The damage that it causes is almost impossible to reverse.”

Aside from reporting the spike in waste shipments here, RadioNZ also alleged that a network of illegal factories purporting to be plastic recyclers was peppered throughout Selangor.

Aside from the concern that China firms were diverting the shipments here, the greater fear is that the illegal local factories are not equipped to recycle the waste and simply burned them.

In July, British public spending watchdog National Audit Office's (NAO) latest report showed that about 250,000 tonnes of plastic — used as product packaging — were exported by the UK as waste to other countries in 2018's first quarter. Malaysia accepted 17 per cent of this.

The NAO report noted that China had been the single biggest market for UK’s exports of packaging material for recycling, but said China had this January banned imports of various waste materials due to fears of high contamination levels.

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