139 illegal plastic recycling plants ordered shut, says minister

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

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 25 — A total of 139 illegal plastic waste recycling factories which violated the Environmental Quality Act 1974 have been closed from January to date.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said from the total, 48 investigation papers have been opened with four factories punished while 44 more were charged with summonses exceeding RM3 million.

“All 139 factories closed or had their operation ceased were the results of inspections on 239 plastic recycling factories via integrated operations held since the beginning of this year to date. Four factories have been charged RM389,000 in summonses and one day jail while 44 other factories would be charged.      

“The total number of factories had surpassed the Key Performance Indicator (KPI)  targeted by the ministry for the first quarter of this year in which is to close 100 errant factories,” she said.

She was speaking to reporters after participating in a special integrated operation on three plastic waste recycling factories around Senawang here today.

Commenting further, Yeo said the operation would continue to be stepped to ensure those found guilty would not only be punished according to the law but also bear the cost of disposing the plastic waste seized.

“The plastic waste seized would be disposed of by auction to those who can dispose the material such as cement factories, and so on without causing further pollution.

“But whatever cost  the government paid for the disposal will be charged to the errant factory operators,” she said.

She added that when the freeze on plastic waste import licence (AP) was imposed in July last year, the country was having 750,000 tonnes of plastic waste and the ministry was expecting the waste to be fully disposed by the middle of this year.

In this regard, the government will continue to conduct enforcement and in fact a task force has been set up to combat the issue at headquarters as well as at state level chaired by the State Environment Committee chairman who is also the chairman of the task force, she said.

“I am calling on all elected representatives and people to be alert against plastic waste recycling factories operating illegally or any activities causing air pollution and to inform authorities.

“We have 400 legal plastic waste recycling factories in the country but it does not mean they are adhering to the law so monitoring has to be conducted at least twice a year to ensure their continuous compliance.

In the operation today, two factories were found operating illegally while another was found infringing the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

The operation today was conducted jointly by the Negeri Sembilan Department of Environment, National Solid Waste Management Department, Seremban and Nilai Municipal Councils, SWCorp, police, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Customs Department, Immigration Department, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Seremban District and Land Office, Syarikat Air Negeri Sembilan and Malaysian Investment Development Board. — Bernama