Malaysian island becomes world’s ‘garbage’, Latest World News

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PULAU INDAH, MALAYSIA: Hundreds of bags full of plastic waste from the United States, Great Britain, South Korea and Spain dump on the streets of an industrial estate in Pulau Indah, an island town just an hour’s drive away from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

The stench of burnt plastic and fumes from nearly a dozen recycling factories waft through the neighborhood.

Pulau Indah – ironically, the name means “beautiful island” in Malay – is one of the many cities in Malaysia where illegal plastic recycling factories have sprung up in recent months.

The trigger for this deluge was China’s import ban on waste since the start of this year, which has disrupted the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of plastic waste per year.

Malaysia quickly became the main alternative destination, importing nearly half a million tonnes of plastic waste between January and July from its top 10 source countries.

Dozens of factories have opened in Malaysia to process the waste, many unlicensed, using low-end technology and environmentally harmful disposal methods.

“The situation is getting worse, especially with more and more illegal plastic recycling factories,” Malaysian Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Yeo Bee Yin told parliament last week. Environment and Climate Change.

Used plastic is recycled into granules, which are used to make other plastic products, but the process carries pollution risks. Plastic that is unsuitable for recycling is burned, releasing toxic chemicals. Or it ends up in landfill, which can contaminate soil and water.

Ms Yeo does not want Malaysia to be the “garbage can” of developed countries, but Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, who oversees waste management, said the government did not want to miss it. a business that could be worth billions.

In the industrial area of ​​Pulau Indah, Reuters reporters saw nearly a dozen recycling plants, many without signs or company names, although government data shows only two factories in that region have recycling facilities. ” a license to import plastic waste.

One of the bigger ones, Jingye Manufacturing, was closed in August for not having a license, according to an official notice. But workers at the plant and others nearby say it reopened within weeks.

When Reuters visited earlier this month, it was working.

Reuters could not reach the owners of the plant.

A worker at the industrial zone said there were as many as eight illegal factories and a lot of plastic burned in the open.

“Every night they burn. I see black smoke at night, so I’m going to ask him, “Why are you trying to kill me?” “They ignore me,” he said.

In nearby Kuala Langat, authorities discovered 41 factories operating illegally, many of which are run by Chinese companies, Zuraida said. About 30 have been closed by authorities in the past three months. – REUTERS


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