The Housing and Local Government Ministry is mulling limited and stricter approved permits (AP) for importing plastic waste instead of an immediate ban.
Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin in a written parliamentary reply yesterday, said an immediate ban would impact the local plastic processing industry, whose recycled plastics are exported to other countries.
As such, the ministry is considering issuing APs to companies that only fulfill the requirements set, as well as use 30 percent of local plastic waste. This is aimed at reducing imports by 30 percent.
Zuraida said the government is also planning to set an import quota, to ensure that there is no influx of plastic waste if another country bans imports.
Lim Lip Eng (Harapan-Kepong) asked Zuraida the rationale of continuing 114 APs of plastic waste when developed countries including China banned imports of plastic waste.
When contacted, Zuraida said the government banned only plastic waste but not quality industrial plastic.
"Plastic waste rubbish (is) banned but quality industrial plastic is acceptable," she said in a text message.
Last week, Zuraida was reported as saying that the government would permanently stop issuing plastic waste APs.
It was also reported that 114 existing APs had been revoked for three months following serious pollution of Kuala Langat, Selangor, stemming from illegal plastic processing factories.
Countries like New Zealand, Australia, and the UK have turned to Malaysia as a destination to export their plastic waste after China stopped importing plastics for recycling.
The increase in plastic imports had led to the mushrooming of illegal recycling factories.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin had vowed that Malaysia would not become a "trash can" for developed countries.