KLANG, Selangor: The Malaysian government will not hesitate to send back plastic waste with false import declaration, the country’s Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said on Tuesday (Apr 23).
Speaking to reporters at Westports in Port Klang, Ms Yeo said the authorities found shipping containers with waste falsely declared as 3920 plastic - which does not require an import permit - while in reality containing 3915 plastic.
"We have found that there are containers which have contaminated plastic waste but they are being falsely declared,” she said.
Under the Harmonised System (HS) for the classification of goods, the 3920 code refers to plastic plates, sheets, film and foil strips, while 3915 refers to plastic waste, parings and scrap.
Approved permits are needed for the import of 3915 plastic into Malaysia.
Ms Yeo said such waste was being brought into Malaysia from countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Germany and Spain.
She added that under the Basel Convention, Malaysian authorities are able to send the containers with dangerous waste back to the original countries and revoke the licenses of forwarding agencies involved in the transfer.
“This is just the first step. We will conduct investigations at the ports in full force so that we can detect any hanky-panky that happens, such as who are involved in importing these plastic waste illegally,” she said.
“Malaysia will not become a garbage dump, we will send back the plastic waste to their original countries,” Ms Yeo added.
The investigations were conducted following reports that Malaysia is quickly becoming a top destination for the world’s plastic waste.
Between January and July 2018, Malaysia's plastic waste imports from its 10 biggest source countries jumped to 456,000 tonnes, from 316,600 tonnes in the whole of 2017 and 168,500 tonnes in 2016.
In the same period, the country imported 195,444 tonnes of plastic waste from the US alone, its biggest exporter. This is double the 97,544 tonnes it took in for almost the whole of 2017.