RM50,000 fine not enough for illegal plastic waste operators, say NGOs

Environmentalists say that there should be mandatory jail-time for those involved in illegal plastic waste operations.

PETALING JAYA: Environmentalists have praised the government’s intention to increase the fines imposed on illegal plastic waste operations to RM50,000, however they said it might not be enough to deter this “multi-billion ringgit” business.

Global Environment Centre (GEC) director Faizal Parish said RM50,000 should be the minimum amount, adding that there should be mandatory jail-time for those involved.

“The government also should have the power to immediately shut them down and force them to pay for the cleanup,” he told FMT.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin had previously said her ministry was putting up a paper on a proposal to impose fines of at least RM50,000 on illegal plastic waste operations as the current RM300 was seen as being too low.

The proposed amendments will be submitted to the Cabinet and tabled in Parliament by 2020.

She also said “waste-to-energy” was definitely the future of waste management as it was the fastest way to clear rubbish, adding that the recycling recommendation of NGOs to curb plastic waste would take a very long time to have any impact.

Faizal said there were many countries which had succeeded in reducing plastic waste through the recycling method.

“If we look at Germany, they have a recycling/reuse rate of 90%. In Sweden only 1% of waste reaches the landfill. In Singapore 60% is recycled. Why would Malaysia need another 60 years for that?” he asked.

Similarly, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Ahmad Ismail said RM50,000 would not be enough. He said plastic was causing untold environmental problems, including killing marine life and human health, so a fine of RM50,000 was not enough.

Penalties, he said, should correspond to the impact of plastic on human health, the economy, wildlife and the environment in general.