Monitor borders to avoid Malaysia from becoming plastic waste dumping ground

This is to prevent history from repeating itself where more than 850,000 tonnes of plastic waste was brought into Malaysia in 2018


IT IS important for local enforcement to be strict in monitoring the incoming waste dumping to Malaysia, especially in light of the reopening of international borders.

In 2018, Malaysia was not only a popular dumping ground for plastic waste but also the highest.

The situation seems to improve for the last two years due to the emergence of Covid-19, which resulted in the shutting off international borders.

“This is also why it’s really essential to ensure it doesn’t spike again and it doesn’t rise now that borders could open up and the industry could flourish again,” the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) founding director Cynthia Gabriel said in a recent press conference.

“So, a lot more needs to be done on the side of enforcement,” she added.

Wong Pui Yi from Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) said the amount of plastic waste brought into Malaysia in 2018 was more than 850,000 tonnes.

When the enforcement took place in 2019, the figures dropped significantly to about 400,000 tonnes.

“Since the plastic waste amendment has been added into the Basel Convention, the European Union (EU) and the European Commission have been discussing a lot that they don’t want to export their waste to non-EU countries.

“So, the export of mixed plastic waste, recycled plastic waste has significantly decreased in Malaysia now, I think we need to really, really pay attention to paper waste,” she explained.

Wong also said that during the Chinese New Year celebrations, factory managers from China returned to their home country but they had difficulty returning to Malaysia due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This has caused factories to be shut down and in turn, reduced the amount of plastic waste.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Datuk Mah Weng Kwai said it is important that those who are authorised have been granted a piece and follow the rules and regulations. At the same time, corruption should not be involved.

For the recyclers who operate illegally, Mah urges authorities to catch these people and punish them for breaking the law.

“Now the question is who is responsible, but surely the authorities which would include the police, customs, local authority, everyone, all authorities should be involved to identify these people, seek them out and punish them because they are the ones that are breaking the law.

“And the effect is that it’s the rather the implication or the impact is on the general society,” he said.

Suhakam and C4 Center held a stakeholder consultation on human rights plastic import in Malaysia with relevant NGOs, government agencies, regulatory bodies, companies and relevant stakeholders.

The event took place virtually as well as in Kuala Lumpur to identify the impact of the imported plastic waste to human rights, determine the roles of the government, states, companies and other stakeholders in the management of plastic waste import to create a more transparent flow, examine the gap and efficacy of existing laws, policies and practices, as well as other applicable mechanisms in addressing the management of plastic waste import in Malaysia.

It also discusses and obtain views on the possibility of corruption within the management of plastic waste import in Malaysia.

In his opening speech, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Othman Hashim said the linkages between human rights and environmental issues have become a hot topic of conversations in Malaysia and the rest of the world in recent years.

“The complementary relationship between environmental sustainability and the enjoyment of basic human rights has been stressed time and time again as news of ecological crisis such as flash floods, landslides and haze, often make headlines.

“I think we can all agree that protection of the environment derives from the common interest of mankind,” he said.

Othman said everyone is responsible for protecting the environment so our future generations can enjoy living in a clean and healthy environment.

This is very much linked with the fundamental human rights of both civil and political, and a lso economic, social and cultural rights.

“As of 2016, estimates of global emissions of plastic wastes to the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans ranged from million metric tonnes per year, with a similar amount emitted onto land annually.

“These estimates are expected to almost double by 2025 if business-as-usual scenarios continue unabated,” he added.


Editor’s note: The article has been updated for clarity