Penang govt to clamp down on illegal plastic factories

Sungai Puyu Assemblymen Phee Boon Poh speaks to the press during the State Assembly Sitting in George Town November 12, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Sungai Puyu Assemblymen Phee Boon Poh speaks to the press during the State Assembly Sitting in George Town November 12, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 12 — Penang is proposing strict measures to clamp down on illegal plastic waste processing factories here.

Sungai Puyu assemblyman Phee Boon Poh told the state legislative assembly that there are over 200 illegal plastic waste processing factories in Penang.

He said the local governments here do not have the power to shut down these factories as the law provisions only allow the authorities to issue notices.

“The local councils can take action against these factories through the courts but when the cases are pending in courts for two years, the factories will continue to operate and the people continue to suffer,” he said.

He said the local authorities, especially the local councils, should be given the power to close down these illegal factories.

“We need to be able to shut them down and take them to court until the court case is over,” he said.

He said the illegal factories have been very uncooperative with the local authorities so it is time that the state takes more stern actions against them.

Phee was initially replying to a question on the number of illegal plastic waste processing factories in the state and the measures taken to resolve it.

He also agreed to a suggestion by backbencher, H’ng Mooi Lye (PH — Jawi) that there should be a special zone for these plastic waste processing factories.

“Now, all these factories are everywhere, it is a good proposal that we create a zone far from residential and industrial areas for these factories, such as near the Pulau Burung dump site,” he said.

The welfare, caring society and environment committee chairman said the state wants all of these illegal factories to come forward and apply for proper licensing now.

“Those who are cooperative will get assistance in the processing of the licenses while those who refused to cooperate will have to face legal repercussions,” he said, adding that these operators should also not be given approved permits (AP) by the federal government.

He said there are 27 factories with AP to import pre-consumer plastics for processing in Penang and the federal government that gave the AP did not check on these factories.

“Some of these AP holders are smuggling in municipal plastic wastes and e-waste which is not allowed,” he said.

He said the state has a total ban on the import of municipal plastic waste and e-waste but these items were being brought in illegally by the containers.

“These AP holders are smuggling it in through our North Butterworth Container Terminal by hiding it under the pre-consumer plastics and some of these go to factories in Johor and Selangor for processing,” he said.

He suggested that the state authorities work together with federal agencies such as Customs to check all plastic waste imports coming in.

“We need to check everything that is coming it to stop this smuggling of municipal plastic waste and e-waste,” he said.

He said currently, e-waste are brought in to be processed in Johor and Selangor, not yet in Penang.

“We want to stop this before it is brought into Penang because the processing of e-waste is very damaging to the environment,” he said.

He said the federal government must also check on the AP it has issued to these plastic waste importers.