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Ministers Vow Stricter Action Against Selangor's Illegal Plastic Waste Recycling Factories

A three-month long freeze on plastic waste import has been in effect since July.

Cover image via Lim Huey Teng for Malaysiakini/Miera Zulyana for Malay Mail

Following reports that illegal plastic recycling facilities in Selangor had turned Malaysia into a "dumping ground", a number of politicians have made stricter moves against the offenders

On 23 September, RadioNZ Insight revealed that "thousands of tonnes of plastic" waste from New Zealand was being sent to Malaysia for burning and dumping.

The report highlighted, among other things, how illegal factories that take in plastic waste have affected the living conditions of residents in Kuala Langat, Selangor.

It was alleged that almost 40 illegal factories had been set up, hidden in oil palm plantations. 

Residents of Jenjarom, Malaysia at one of the illegal factories.

Image via Nita Blake-Persen/RNZ

The issue had first come to light in July this year, following which a freeze on plastic waste imports was implemented

Free Malaysia Today reported on 24 July that the approved permits (APs) for the importation of plastic waste of 114 companies and factories nationwide were revoked for a three-month period.

The revocation also put a stop to recycling operations at the factories.

However, the RadioNZ report recently found that factories in Kuala Langat whose APs were revoked were still operating, drawing anger from Malaysian politicians and citizens. 

Following the report, Water, Land, and Natural Resources Minister Dr A Xavier Jayakumar called for relevant authorities to immediately suspend all unlicensed factories

Water, Land, and Natural Resources Minister Dr A Xavier Jayakumar.

Image via Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

"Given the operators' brazen acts in continuing their operations, this gives me the impression that the authorities and enforcement agencies are either in cahoots with these operators or (the agencies) have not clearly done their duties to ensure that such plants are not allowed to operate," Xavier said in a statement, as reported by Malaysiakini yesterday, 24 September.

The Kuala Langat MP also said he received complaints from his constituents alleging that Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) did not cut the illegal factories' electricity supply due to "legal issues".

Additional complaints also alleged a "lackadaisical attitude of Kuala Langat Municipal Council (MDKL) and the Selangor Department of Environment (DOE) in conducting enforcement operations to ensure that the plastic recycling operations and subsequent pollution were halted".

Meanwhile, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin has announced new terms for Approved Permits (APs)

Housing and Local Government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin (in white headscarf).

Image via Bernama

The announcement came after Zuraida paid a "surprise" visit to the site of factories, which The Star described as "hidden in the deep nooks of the villages".

Under the new terms for AP registration, factories will be required to:
- pay a levy of RM15 for every tonne of waste imported,
- receive approval from the DOE and Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), and
- have materials checked and tallied with the Customs Department.

The new terms will come into effect when the freeze ends on 23 October.

A New Zealand reporter recently exposed the existence of illegal plastic waste factories in Kuala Langat, Selangor:

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