100 illegal plastic waste factories to be shut in Q1 2019, says environment minister

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin and Pelabuhan Klang assemblyman Azmizam Zaman Huri look at plastic waste at an illegal recycling factory in Klang January 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin and Pelabuhan Klang assemblyman Azmizam Zaman Huri look at plastic waste at an illegal recycling factory in Klang January 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KLANG, Jan 17 — The government aims to shut down up to 100 illegal plastic waste recycling factories nationwide in the first quarter of this year, said Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change minister Yeo Bee Yin.

She said since the freeze on importing plastic waste into Malaysia in July last year, 61 operations were conducted on illegal factories, primarily in Selangor.

“Of this number, 52 were permanently closed down while the remainder were found to be no longer operational,” Yeoh said at a press conference during a raid on one such location in Telok Gong.

She added that licensed factories will also be scrutinised to determine if their operations adhere to the law.

“Should they be found guilty of violating regulations in the Environmental Quality Act 1974 concerning air regulation, effluents, and the like, they are liable to be brought to court and fined, with the possibility of their operations being closed down.

“As it stands, some 97 illegal factories have been detected nationwide. Most are concentrated in Selangor but others include six in Johor, 10 in Kedah, and 10 in Negri Sembilan,” Yeo said, adding that her ministry has now opened 36 investigation papers into the operators of the illegal factories.

Klang Municipal Council (MPK) enforcement officers raid an illegal plastic waste recycling factory in Klang January 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Klang Municipal Council (MPK) enforcement officers raid an illegal plastic waste recycling factory in Klang January 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Special task forces will also be set up at the state-level to look into the matter, which will be chaired by their respective excos who are in charge of the environment.

“I want to make it clear that we will no longer tolerate such illegal entities from operating as they used to.

“Therefore, I encourage the public to act as our eyes and ears, and alert us to any instances of illegal plastic waste recycling factories that they come across so we can swiftly deal with them,” she said.

An Environmental Department officer examines plastic waste at an illegal recycling factory in Klang January 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
An Environmental Department officer examines plastic waste at an illegal recycling factory in Klang January 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

The joint enforcement operations involved the Selangor Environmental Department, local authorities, the Land Office, the police and the Immigration Department, among others.

On October 26 last year, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin announced Malaysia will permanently ban the import of plastic waste, following discussions between her ministry and Yeo’s.

She added other types of plastic imports would also be phased out within the next three years.

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