KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Two plastic waste recycling factories in Selangor were today fined separately in amounts totalling RM120,000 for having carried out unauthorised recycling activities.
In the first case, Sepang Sessions Court judge Saifulakmal Mohd Zain fined Lee Soo Hua (Lai Huat) & Sons Sdn Bhd a total of RM70,000 under three counts of breaching local environmental laws and regulations, with a one-year jail term as alternative if any of the fines under the three counts are not paid.
The company’s director Lee Chee Keong has pleaded guilty and paid all the fines, according to information from the Department of Environment (DoE) Selangor.
Lee Soo Hua (Lai Huat) & Sons Sdn Bhd, which is based in Jenjarom in Selangor, was inspected at around noon on September 20 last year.
According to DoE Selangor, the factory was found to be carrying out plastic processing activities without having written in to inform the department of such air-polluting activities, and having failed to install any air pollution control system at the factory’s machine that cooks and liquefies plastic to control the release of smell and smoke to the surroundings.
For Lee Soo Hua (Lai Huat) & Sons Sdn Bhd, the company was found guilty of having breached Section 34A (2) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 for recycling solid waste in the form of used plastics without having first obtained approval from the DoE director-general.
This is punishable with a maximum of RM500,000 fine or maximum five-year jail or both. The judge meted out a sentence of RM30,000 fine or the alternative of serving a 12 months’ jail term.
The two other wrongdoing which the company was found guilty of was the breach of Regulation 5(1)(b) and 7(1) of the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014, over its failure to inform the DoE of its air-polluting activities and failure to install equipment to control air pollution from the plastic recycling works.
These two breaches are both punishable with a maximum RM100,000 fine or a five-year jail or both. In both instances, the company was ordered to pay a RM20,000 fine or to serve a one-year sentence instead.
In the second case, Revolution Eco Enterprise’s Kuala Langat factory was inspected by DoE officials on August 2 last year, where the company was similarly found to have conducted plastic recycling activities without prior approval from the DoE director-general.
The environmental authority had during the August 2018 inspection found that the factory’s washing of plastics at a washing line produced industrial effluents, and that there was no system installed to manage the industrial effluents.
Saifulakmal, who also heard this case, found Revolution Eco Enterprise to be guilty of the same Section 34A (2) offence over the plastic waste recycling without the DoE’s approval.
For this breach, he meted out a sentence of RM30,000 or a one-year jail term.
The judge also found this company guilty of breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Environmental Quality (Industrial Effluent) Regulations 2009, over its failure to inform the DoE director-general via written notification of its industrial effluent-producing activities.
The maximum penalty for this breach is a RM100,000 fine or two-year jail or both. The judge ordered the company to pay a RM20,000 fine or serve a one-year jail term.
The company’s director Law Wong Teh pleaded guilty and will be paying the fines, information by DoE Selangor said.
Both cases were conducted by DoE Selangor’s prosecuting officer Zulaikha Mokhtar.
On February 25, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said a total of 139 illegal plastic waste recycling factories have been shut down since this January.
Yeo reportedly then said 48 investigation papers were opened with 44 to face chsrges involving summonses of more than RM3 million, while four factories had been slapped with RM389,000 in summonses and one-day jail.
Malaysia has embarked on a crackdown of illegal plastic waste recycling activities by factories, following complaints of pollution by residents in Selangor.
Malaysia became a major destination for the world’s recyclable plastic waste after China stopped accepting such refuse last year.
In 2018, Malaysia received hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste from the UK, Australia and the US, among others.
However, such waste is rarely recycled due to the true costs involved and is typically incinerated illegally as part of a growing global problem that is being exposed.
Last October, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin announced a permanent ban on the import of plastic waste.
In January, Zuraida said Malaysia has never approved the import of plastic waste, but allowed clean plastic scrap to be brought in from developed nations to be recycled.