PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has become a dumping ground for New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom to dispose of plastic waste, according to Radio New Zealand (RNZ).
The news outlet said after China – which previously accepted around 50% of the world’s waste – banned plastic imports beginning this year, Malaysia has become a “popular alternative”.
New Zealand’s exports to the country, RNZ notes, has tripled in the last six months.
This has led to the mushrooming of nearly 40 illegal plastic recycling factories in Jenjarom, Kuala Langat, an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur.
“Most are hidden in the palm oil plantations, which the factory owners rent because they are cheap and accessible to waterways.
“That way they can easily dump the contaminated water they use to clean the filthy plastics before they process them,” RNZ reported.
This, according to RNZ, has led to fish and prawn ponds operating nearby to lose all their stock in the past two months.
Owners, the portal reported, suspect the fish and prawns were poisoned by the toxic wastewater coming from the factories.
Compounding the problem are plastics that cannot be recycled and were either dumped or burned.
“That’s having a devastating effect on the environment, and the health of those living nearby,” RNZ wrote.
The portal also quoted a chemist named Lay Peng Pua who claimed that most of the factories are Chinese owned and operated.
Lay, according to the report, also claimed that many “local authorities are paid off by the factory owners to ignore their illegal activities, with enforcement virtually non-existent.”
In June, it was reported that UK waste being exported to Malaysia has more than trebled, making it the main destination for British plastics.
While Reuters reported earlier this year that annual imports of plastic scrap into Malaysia jumped to 450,000-500,000 tonnes in 2017 from 288,000 tonnes in 2016.
It went on to say that Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand are among the Southeast Asian countries that have attracted Chinese investors in the plastics recycling sector over the past year, keen to fill the void left in China.