New Zealand used to send their plastic waste to China for recycling but due to the recent ban on plastic imports by China at the beginning of this year, it looks like Malaysia has become their new dumping ground. In fact, even the UK and Australia are doing the same as well.
In a recent report by Radio New Zealand (RNZ), the country plastic waste exports has tripled within six months which has caused nearly 40 illegal plastic recycling factories to open in Jenjarom, Kuala Langat.
The report explained that these factories are hidden in the palm oil plantations in the area where the rent is cheap and they have access to the waterways running through the plantation.
RNZ stated as quoted by FMT,
“That way, they can easily dump the contaminated water they use to clean the filthy plastic before they process them.”
When night falls, the air in the area is filled with toxic smoke and the smell of burning plastic permeates the air because anything that cannot be recycled will be burned. The report also mentioned that this has caused a devastating effect on the environment and also the health of those living in the area.
A local chemist, Lay Peng Puah, told RNZ that most of the illegal factories are owned and operated by the Chinese because they moved their business to Malaysia as a result of the ban.
She also claimed that the factory owners have paid off the local authorities so that their illegal activities will not be disturbed and there is no enforcement in the area.
When RNZ asked about the issue, the MP of Petaling Jaya, Maria Chin Abdullah promised that they will make plastic pollution a priority but she also explained that change will not happen overnight.
She said, “We may have changed our government but we are working within an old system. And these civil servants are from the past government and they follow the kind of attitude that is left behind.”
She then added,
“I’m not surprised there may be allegations of corruption, and it is still continuing. It’s just that we have to set up the policy and then take action on that.”
Maria also noted that she wants to ban imported plastics but the responsibility regarding this issue should not only fall on Malaysia’s hands but also New Zealand. She explained that as long as their exporters want to sell their plastics overseas, buyers will want to buy it without thinking of the effect on the environment and health.
With Malaysia aiming to become a more environmentally friendly nation, these illegal factories should be shut down as they have such a massive impact on the environment. What do you think of the issue? What needs to be done first: eliminating the corrupted or stopping the export of plastic waste?