By RAHIMI YUNUS & SHAZNI ONG / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
The government is expected to impose pollution charges on businesses starting next year as part of the nation’s aggressive move towards zero single-use plastics by 2030.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the plan will be implemented in phases under the jurisdiction of state governments between next year and up to the 2021 grace period.
“We give the liberty to the state governments to decide on how they want to do it and how much the charge would be,” Yeo said at the launch of Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030 at the International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Yeo said the government is giving full authority to the state governments because each state has a different level of awareness and implementation readiness to enact the charge.
She said the pollution charge will be imposed on major retailers, chain shops and restaurants that are using conventional plastic bags.
The fee is one of the components in the first phase of the roadmap from 2019 to 2021. However, it is not clear if the pollution charge will be passed down to consumers.
Additionally, Yeo said proceeds collected from the pollution charge will be ploughed back into funding awareness campaigns and the distribution of reusable plastic bags to consumers.
Selangor and Penang have already imposed an additional charge of 20 sen per plastic bag for consumers who shop at hypermarkets — perhaps one of the schemes that could be likened to the proposed pollution charge. Recently, the government had banned the usage of plastic straws by default at eateries and frozen plastic imports from developed countries.
Statistics showed that four developed nations dumped 428.5 million metric tonnes (MT) of HS Code 3915 plastic waste in the first seven months of this year with the US sending 195 million MT worth RM128.5 million.
Other exporters are Japan with 104.9 million MT, the UK (95.3 million MT) and Australia (34.2 million MT).
Meanwhile, Yeo said Putrajaya is expected to enhance energy performance contracts next year to retrofit government buildings into electricity-efficient premises.
She said the government has around 5,000 buildings across the country and the retrofitting jobs will be open to the private sector.
As it is, Malaysia’s energy consumption in buildings comprises 14% of the total energy consumption and 52.4% of electricity consumption in 2016.
The minister added that the government will introduce the Building Energy Intensity Labelling programme on Saturday during an energy-efficiency townhall.