March 11, 2021 8:30 AM
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) has urged Putrajaya to remodel the waste management system to meet the rising demand for recycled plastic resin in the next four years.

MPMA vice-president CC Cheah said it made “commercial sense” to tap into the recycling industry, which generates some RM4.5 billion in annual revenue.

Demand for recycled plastic, he said, was expected to hit 4.5 million tonnes by 2025.

Cheah said the Covid-19 pandemic had also led to a surge in demand for plastic for consumer products, such as food packaging and electronics.

This, in turn, would further contribute to the demand for recycled plastic resin, he said.

“There is money to be made in waste management. There are a lot of business opportunities that many private companies want to invest in,” he told FMT.
He believed that with the right incentives, proper regulation and framework as well as Putrajaya’s support, the sector can grow into a RM15 billion to RM20 billion industry.

Cheah said that apart from that, the industry would offer job opportunities, especially for chemical, mechanical and electrical engineers as well as technicians, on top of other disciplines.

In remodelling the nation’s waste management system, he said, Putrajaya should invest in more materials recovery facilities, or MRFs, nationwide.

These facilities are used to “separate and densify commingled materials” to prepare them for recycling.

There are currently two “small” MRFs in the country – in Termerloh and Sepang – and building such facilities is not very expensive, “somewhere between RM300,000 and RM400,000”.

Cheah also said the government should incentivise the private sector to set up waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, which incinerate waste that are impossible to recycle and convert them to energy.

He said three waste-to-energy (WTE) plants were coming up in Negeri Sembilan, Rawang and Jeram.

Facilities like these, he said, were needed if the country aimed to achieve a recycling and recovery rate of 80% to 90%, as in Japan. Currently, the recycling rate in Malaysia stands at 31%.

“We believe there are opportunities for Malaysia to develop a modern and advanced plastics recycling industry,” he said, adding that the housing and local government ministry had already introduced recycling parks in Kedah and Johor.

Meanwhile, the MPMA said in a presentation that if the country’s waste management system was not tweaked, recycling would remain an “ad hoc activity” and would be difficult to manage in the long run.

Malaysia, it warned, would find itself in the position of one of the countries which export their “sampah plastik” when “we run out of landfills, which is inevitable”.

MPMA also wanted the government to push schemes to better promote a circular economy, an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources.