Minister: Plastic waste a RM30b industry, can’t be ignored

Azril Annuar
Zuraida disclosed that only eight of the 114 approved plastic factories fulfilled all of the ministry’s terms and conditions. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Putrajaya cannot afford to alienate or completely ban the plastic waste processing sector despite mounting pollutions concerns as it is a RM30 billion industry, said Zuraida Kamaruddin.

The housing and local government minister also told Parliament during Question Time that she has no plans on changing the government’s policies regarding plastic waste, but will tighten import conditions.

“Four ministries including MESTECC, Miti and the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry have discussed the direction of the plastic waste import and we find that the business potential for this industry is RM30 billion.

“We cannot look down on this because it is a huge income for this country. Therefore we will tighten our procedures and conditions.

“The only plastic we allow to be imported are high-quality plastic which are homogeneous and clean palettes from the industry and not garbage waste,” said Zuraida who was replying to an additional question by Datuk Zakaria Mohd Edris (BN - Libaran).

The minister did not specify the period across which the industry would generate this RM30 billion.

She said the government cannot afford to give up the revenue and economic opportunity, while the ministries involved with plastic waste management have agreed on a time frame before phasing out the imports while sourcing out domestic plastic waste to be processed.

However, she said her ministry’s enforcement officers have found that there were many illegal plastic processing factories that did not have permits to import plastic waste.

At the same time, she also disclosed that only eight of the 114 approved plastic factories fulfilled all of the ministry’s terms and conditions.

“Therefore we have introduced new and more stringent conditions to control plastic waste importers.

“Among the conditions are a 70 per cent plastic waste import limitation, limiting imports to only selected segregated post-consumer waste and restricting plastic waste imports from developing countries,” replied Zuraida to a question posed by Charles Santiago (PH — Klang).

Santiago then told the Lower House that local authorities in Klang have not taken action against illegal plastic waste factories as these are still operating around West Port.

He said the Klang Municipal Council appeared unaware of the ministry’s conditions and has not taken action against the recalcitrant factories, but instead went on to issue new permits for more factories to operate.

Zuraida said her ministry already sent out a circular on the matter to all local authorities, especially those in Selangor and Penang where the bulk of these factories operate.

Malaysia became a major destination for the world’s “recyclable” plastic waste after China banned fresh imports this year.

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