KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — The shipping back of plastic waste to their countries of origin, the need for strict controls on imports of plastic waste and addressing issues related to open burning and the haze, were among initiatives taken by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (Mestecc) in 2019.
The ministry helmed by Yeo Bee Yin in its report card established that these initiatives and accomplishments were to further develop the various sectors under its purview, while ensuring that it would remain committed in developing strategies to address environmental and climate change issues.
Touching on the country’s environmental issues in the 70-page report, Mestecc emphasised its strong message to the world that it would ensure that the containers filled with plastic waste are sent back to the countries of origin.
Throughout this year, It is estimated that some 100 containers have been sent back to the home countries among them, developed nations such as France, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan.
Mestecc also highlighted the plight of the Malaysian public and expressed the right to impose strict controls on imports of plastic waste at the Basel Convention held from April 29 to May 10, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.
In helping to limit the entry of plastic waste into the country, the Malaysian delegation also fully supported the Norwegian Government’s proposal to amend the classification of plastic waste at the Basel Convention which requires strict controls on cross-border movements of plastic wastes.
To strengthen the Roadmap towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030, a sum of RM8.5 million has been allocated for the purpose of a research project to produce eco-friendly products as plastic alternatives and to produce test kits to identify bioplastic products.
In relation to the illegal dumping of toxic waste in Sungai Kim Kim and the health concerns in Pasir Gudang, the government also took steps to improve environmental quality control and management.
Among them, the Cabinet approved an allocation of RM17.7 million to improve air quality monitoring capabilities at industrial areas across Malaysia, especially in Pasir Gudang and the Department of Environment (DOE) with academics, technical agencies and industries carried out Load Analysis and Carrying Capacity Studies for the areas.
The report also outlined some of the measures taken by the ministry to address the issue of transboundary haze, mostly due to forest fires either within the country or in neighbouring countries.
The Government has also activated the National Open Burning Action Plan and the National Haze Action Plan to coordinate government agencies activities in addressing open burning and haze incidents.
The ministry in collaboration with the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) and the Royal Malaysian Air Force conducted five cloud seeding operations in several states last Sept and mobilised members of the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department, National Disaster Management Agency and local authorities to tackle the impact of the haze due to fires.
Meanwhile, Mestecc through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry on Sept 6, urging Indonesia to take immediate action to put out the forest and field fires there.
Mestecc also sent letters and convened via telephone with the ASEAN Secretariat to discuss the issue of cross-border haze and how the ASEAN platform could be used more effectively in addressing the issue.
To address the haze problem in the long run, the government plans to review new legal requirements to take action against Malaysian individuals or companies responsible for the haze in Malaysia regardless where the burning is carried out, through the Cross-border Pollution Act.
The government remains firm in its stance in urging member countries especially Indonesia to comply with the obligations under the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and has allocated RM3 million for research to find innovative solutions to effectively eliminate peat fires.
As climate change is a complex issue which has its impacts across various fields and sectors, Mestecc established the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Centre which was launched on Oct 10, 2019.
The centre will focus on coordination of climate change adaptation and mitigation activities involving various parties to enhance Malaysia’s readiness in adapting to climate change impacts. — Bernama