Stop pussyfooting around pollution from plastic waste recycling

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The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is aghast to have read a recent report of open burning of plastics in Relau, Penang.

In fact we have also been informed of another case in Tanjong Bungah where plastics were burned in the early hours (about 4am) of 11 February 2020.

We call on the government to completely weed out plastic recycling facilities that do not comply to the stringent guidelines available.

The reasons are that:

  • usually only a small fraction of plastic waste (about 5%) is recyclable while the rest has to be disposed. Normally illegal plastic recycling facilities have three cost-effective ways to dispose of plastic waste: landfills (legal or illegal) and burning.
  • the plastic waste needs to be cleaned and the process results in waste water that has to be treated before discharging it into the environment.

Either method of disposing plastic waste or the water that is used to clean and rinse the waste contaminates the environment.

Such environmental violations have been going on in many states, particularly after China shut its door to the import of most recyclable plastic waste in 2017.

In view of the many cases of such incidents, the government should take firm action immediately against the factories involved. The government should set up a hotline for people to report illegal factories and their activities. A taskforce should also be formed to handle such problems without fear or favour.

It is of utmost importance for the government to safeguard the health of the people.

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