The Malaysian authorities have reportedly shut down as many 139 Illegal plastic recycling facilities. They exceeded their yearly target to shut down 100 sites within 3-months of the year
The sites that have been shut down were found to be either operating illegally or had broken the provisions of the Environment Quality Act, which has been in place since last July after an estimated 750,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste was shipped into Malaysian borders.
Malaysian Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin says, “I am happy that we managed to close 139 premises. I would also like to remind those who are planning to open plastic recycling premises illegally to drop the idea because we will come down hard on you.”
The Minister explained that the authorities had inspected 273 premises since July last year, and of them, 108 were found to be unlicensed.
She added: “We stopped issuing permits to import plastic waste in July upon discovering that there was an influx of such waste into the country. We need to carry out these checks as we are still reeling from the aftermath of so much plastic waste brought in illegally and we can see the effects on the environment.”
Ministerial officials have since taken four operators to court and will charge another 44. The Malaysian courts have imposed fines of RM389,000 ($96,000) and one-day jail terms against the wrongdoers. The Minister said: “Based on our estimates, we should be able to collect some RM3mil ($742,000) in fines from the remaining 44 illegal operators.”
The influx of illegal plastic import was triggered by a Chinese ban on waste imports last year, which disrupted the flow of more than 7 million tons of plastic scrap a year.
Malaysia quickly became the leading alternative destination, importing nearly half a million tons of plastic waste between January and July from just its top 10 source countries that include US, UK, South Korea and Spain.
The plastics processing industry in Malaysia is currently worth an estimated $840 Million and thus has become a booming industry. But not all of the imported plastics can be recycled, this has led to an increase in the number of illegal recycling plants which now is causing environmental hazards. The unrecycled littered waste has left Malaysia to find a way to dispose of it.
Picture Credit: Malaymail