Malaysian Government-backed report shows benefits of recycled plastic imports

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Zuraida Kamaruddin
Malaysian minister Zuraida Kamaruddin

A report on plastic recycling that is supported by the Malaysian Government has shown the benefits of imports of recycled plastics into the country.

The report, An Advanced Plastics Recycling Industry for Malaysia, shows that manufactured goods made out of plastic are worth RM320 billion (£62.1 billion) to the country’s economy.

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According to the report, in order to feed the manufacturing sector: “Licensed plastics recyclers need to buy clean scrap generated by overseas manufacturers and factories, to supplement the relatively small volume of local industrial plastics waste.

“Imported clean scrap is essential to achieve the economies of scale dictated by the machinery and technology which they invested in.”

Currently, the legitimate plastic recycling industry is worth RM4.5 billion (£872 million to the country’s economy.

However, the report warns that Malaysia must not become a “dumping ground for other countries”. It says that the onslaught of what is known as sampah plastic (plastic waste) in Malaysia was as a result of illegally smuggled plastic imports by unlicensed recyclers. This material in particular was coming from United States, Canada, UK, Australia and EU countries.

It notes that many places in the Malaysian countryside was left with abandoned dumps of waste plastic, and that there might still be sites to be found.

The report states that the pollution and harm caused by sampah plastic have marred the perception of the legitimate plastics recycling industry and its potential for greater investment in the country.

At the launch of the study, Malaysian Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said that her department would soon introduce a new plastic recycling policy that would have the aim of boosting the economy.

She said that the findings of this report would help to inform this policy adding: “The plastic recycling industry worldwide is worth $600 billion (£489 billion). I would want Malaysia to capitalise on this potential. I feel that this is a good opportunity for Malaysia, the new government and the economy to embrace the benefits and potential of the plastic industry.

“If the matter is handled with good care and perfectly through effective enforcement, it will be a very modern and advanced industry.”

She hopes to introduce the new policy next year.

The report was produced by the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association, Malaysia Plastics Recycles Association and Monash University Malaysia.

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