PETALING JAYA: Half-measures such as making importers pay additional fees are not enough to address the problem of plastic waste in Malaysia.
A long-term solution is to ban the import of such material and to close down illegal waste processing factories, according to environmental watchdog group Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat.
Its secretary, Pua Lay Peng, said the Housing and Local Government Ministry should work with local councils to shut down these factories.
Pua estimated that there were more than 40 such factories now operating in the Kuala Langat area, and not 36 as reported.
In addition, she said the Department of Environment (DoE) should beef up enforcement to stop such illegal activities.
She was responding to a statement by the ministry that licence and verification fees as well as new charges for each tonne of plastic imported would be imposed soon.
Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the fees would contribute towards the country’s income.
Pua, who lives in Kuala Langat, said the situation in the area was dire, and the people’s health had been affected. “Higher fees will not solve the problem,” she added.
She cited the case of plastic being burned at a recycling factory in Kampung Sungai Kandis, despite it having been sealed by the DoE, as an urgent reminder that the government should address the problem quickly.
She said the government should ban the import of foreign waste as China did in 2017.
A recent article by the BBC said the government had shut down 33 illegal factories in Jenjarom, in the Kuala Langat district, but 17,000 tonnes of rubbish were left in those premises.
The report added that while some of the waste had been processed by the authorities, at least 4,000 tonnes remained at just one site, underscoring the magnitude of the problem.