Malaysian authorities have shut down 139 illegal plastic recycling facilities this year, exceeding its target of 100 sites within the first three months of the year, according to Malaysian newspaper The Star.
The sites that have been shut down were found to be either operating illegally or had broken the provisions of the Environment Quality Act, which has been in place since last July after an estimated 750,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste was shipped into the country.
REB Market Intelligence reported in January that Malaysian authorities were to shut down 100 sites within the first three months of 2019.
However, Malaysian Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said that authorities have exceeded their KPI of shutting down 100 illegal premises by the first quarter of the year, as they have shut down 139 sites.
She said after leading raids at three premises at the Senawang Industrial area: “I am happy that we managed to close 139 premises. I would also like to remind those who are planning to open plastic recycling premises illegally to drop the idea because we will come down hard on you.”
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The Minister explained that the authorities had inspected 273 premises since July last year, and of them, 108 were found to be unlicensed.
She added: “We stopped issuing permits to import plastic waste in July upon discovering that there was an influx of such waste into the country. We need to carry out these checks as we are still reeling from the aftermath of so much plastic waste brought in illegally and we can see the effects on the environment.”
Ministerial officials have since taken four operators to court and will charge another 44.
The courts have imposed fines of RM389,000 (£73,000) and one-day jail terms against the wrongdoers.
The Minister said: “Based on our estimates, we should be able to collect some RM3mil (£564,000) in fines from the remaining 44 illegal operators.”
Selangor had the highest number of premises shut down (78), followed by Perak (16), Kedah (15), Negri Sembilan (12) and Penang (10).
There were no illegal plastic recycling facilities found in Malacca, Perlis, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Terengganu, Sarawak and Labuan.
During the raids the Minister led, two of the three sites were found to have imported plastic waste illegally.