Last year, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change unveiled a roadmap to reduce the usage of single-use plastic in Malaysia to zero by the year 2030.
For 2019, the ministry aims to enforce pollution charge on single-use plastic. Effective March 15, a 20 sen pollution charge is imposed on customers for each plastic bag purchased within the Federal Territories.
Similar efforts have been introduced in states like Penang, Selangor and Melaka years before. The move was initially implemented on selected days before gradually extended to every single day.
However, the Penang government suggested to increase the pollution charge in its state from 20 sen to 50 sen to further reduce the usage of single-use plastic.
The roadmap also targets business premises to only provide plastic straw upon request.
Although the total plastic straw ban would only take effect on January 1, 2020, Selangor had already banned the usage of plastic straws at food and beverage outlets in its state since July this year.
The effort to stop the usage of single-use straws does not stop at eateries. Recently, Nestle Malaysia announced that they will use paper straws as an alternative for Milo packed drinks.
According to a report from The Guardian, Malaysia was the largest plastic waste importer in the world. From January to November 2018, it was recorded that Malaysia had imported over 910,000 tons of plastic waste.
The second spot was taken by another Southeast Asia country, which is Thailand. However, the volume of plastic waste imported by the neighbouring country was about half the amount compared to Malaysia. It was reported that Thailand imported about 470,000 tons of plastic within the first 11 months of 2018.
Whereas, the top exporter of plastic waste was the United States. More than 960,000 tons of plastic had been exported out of the country within the same time frame.
There was just a 50,000 tons difference between the plastic waste exported by the United States and the plastic waste imported by Malaysia. Comparing the size and population of the two nations, Malaysia is importing too much plastic waste into the country.
Environmental NGO Greenpeace Malaysia revealed that the United States, Japan and Britain were the three largest plastic waste exporters to Malaysia.
Unfortunately, the NGO dubbed Malaysia as “the world’s rubbish bin”.
Earlier in February, a small town in the outskirts of Selangor known as Jenjarom had become the home of 17,000 tonnes of plastic waste.
Additionally, the media also reported that Kuala Langat, the district where Jenjarom is located in, had over 33 illegal plastic recycling factories.
According to a report by the BBC, these illegal factories would dispose the massive amount of plastic using the cheaper methods, either burying or burning them.
The latter would lead to haze which is potentially harmful to human health and the environment.
While we are trying to put an end to single-use plastic, we still receive massive amounts of plastic waste from foreign countries.
It would mean nothing if we reduced our plastic waste just to make space for others. We hope that the government could do their part in preventing such incidents from happening again.
Nevertheless, let’s not feel demotivated and continue to do our part as Malaysians by keeping our country clean.