265 containers of plastic waste found abandoned in Butterworth, says Penang Customs Dept

Piles of plastic are seen at an illegal recycling site in Jenjarom, Banting March 26, 2019. Penang Customs Department (JKDM) today revealed that 265 containers of plastic waste have been brought into the state and are now abandoned at the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) since January. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Piles of plastic are seen at an illegal recycling site in Jenjarom, Banting March 26, 2019. Penang Customs Department (JKDM) today revealed that 265 containers of plastic waste have been brought into the state and are now abandoned at the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) since January. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

BUTTERWORTH, May 30 — Penang Customs Department (JKDM) today revealed that 265 containers of plastic waste have been brought into the state and are now abandoned at the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) since January.

Its director, Datuk Saidi Ismail said 149 of them were declared as recycled materials while the content of remaining containers have yet to be declared and they did not have import licence (AP).

“An inspection by customs found most of them contained waste and most of them were from developed countries such as Hong Kong, Canada, Belgium, Germany as well as the United States. We believe they were imported as recycling materials,” he said when contacted here tonight.

He said as the containers were not claimed, they are causing a congestion at NBCT and the Customs Department has to rent open space to store other containers.

The government is losing more than RM5 million in almost six months this year to maintain the unclaimed containers and is incurring storage space charges for the containers, he added.

Meanwhile State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman, Phee Boon Poh said according to the container’s shipping manifests, it was found 11 companies were involved in this illegal activity.

“Some 130 containers are facing a compound of RM1,000 each while efforts to check the other containers are still going,” he said.

According to him, the modus operandi of these illegal operators is to fill the front of the container with recycling materials and illegal waste such as plastics are hidden at the back to escape detection by the authorities,” he said.

He said the state government is still waiting directive from the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister (MESTECC) for further action.

On Tuesday, MESTECC Yeo Bee Yin said 450 tonnes of wastes from 10 containers would be sent back to the countries of origin soon.

She also said the Cabinet on April 24 had also given the mandate to her ministry to set up a special team involving various agencies to investigate the activities of smuggling plastic waste to Malaysia. — Bernama