The Malaysian Government will impose an import fee on plastic recycling starting in June.
From this date, those importing recyclable plastics will need to pay RM20 (£3.50) per tonne to cover the cost of port inspections of containers.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin told The Star Malaysian newspaper that a RM50 (£8.80) import fee had previously been proposed but it was negotiated down.
“They have agreed, so we will implement this in June,” she said.
She also said that the Government will be tough with the 71 plastic recycling facilities that have Approved Permits (AP) to import recyclable plastic.
“Officers will be on the ground to make sure they comply with all the terms. Then only will we approve the APs. We are very stringent.”
However, the Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association and Malaysian Plastic Recyclers Association warned that efforts to restrict imports could damage the country’s push to develop a circular economy.
In a joint statement they said: “Legitimate recyclers support the national economy by providing recycled plastics as raw material such as electrical and electronics, automotive, furniture, food and construction.
“Malaysia must invest in developing a circular economy, to eliminate waste and pollution. Without the recycling sector, the country will not be able to develop into a sustainable economy and create new value to benefit society and the environment.
“Plastic waste cannot be shipped here from exporting countries without the prior written consent of the Department of Environment, which is Malaysia’s competent authority for notification.
“Numerous regulatory and enforcement agencies are coordinating their actions to prevent entry of plastics waste under these new regulations. These include the Customs Department, National Solid Waste Management, port authorities and Solid Waste Management Agency, among others.
“We have even accepted the imposition of the RM20 per tonne levy to help defray the cost of enforcement including port inspections of containers. This levy is in addition to 18 new stringent rules and regulations, which we must comply with.
“We will also continue to support and assist the Government in efforts to crack down on unscrupulous and illegal operators, and to protect the environment.”
Since 2018, Malaysia has increasingly toughened regulations on import of plastics. Measures that have been or will be introduced include Malaysia requiring that those exporting plastics there are endorsed by the country of origin, prior written consent of imports, and a restriction on imports from developing countries.