Minister: Amendments to Basel Convention will help curb movement of plastic waste

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

PUTRAJAYA, May 17 — The recent amendment to the classification of plastic wastes under the Basel Convention, an international treaty, will help Malaysia restrict the import of such wastes from other countries more effectively, said Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) Minister Yeo Bee Yin.

This is because the amendment to the proposed plastic waste classification by the Convention which was ratified by 187 countries requires a ‘prior informed consent (PIC) from the country importing the plastic waste before any cross-border waste movement is conducted.

Previously, she said the plastic waste classified under Annex IX of the Basel Convention did not clearly state whether the waste could be recycled or not. It also did not require PIC approval from the country importing the waste.

“With the amendment, plastic wastes are more clearly classified and plastic waste-exporting countries need to have special consideration or PIC from importing countries before any cross-border movements of the plastic wastes are carried out,” she said at a media conference at the ministry here today.

Yeo said the 14th Basel Convention Conference held from April 29 to May 10 in Geneva, Switzerland was attended by three MESTECC officials and an official from the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

She said Malaysia also fully supported Norway’s proposal for plastic wastes to be listed under Annex II of the treaty — the category of wastes requiring special consideration.

Commenting on the import of illegal plastic wastes into the country, Yeo said five containers with the wastes had been falsely declared so that they could be brought and dumped in Malaysia.

However, the containers were blocked by the Department of Environment (DoE) and sent back to the country of origin, Spain.

She said Malaysia has become the main destination for contaminated plastic waste imports from foreign countries since China banned the import of plastic wastes last year (2018).

To date, the DoE has taken action against 148 illegal plastic recycling plants, she said. — Bernama

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