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Malaysia needs the right policies and investment framework that will catalyse an advanced plastics recycling industry, to create a new engine of growth for employment and drive a dynamic export sector for Malaysia through turning waste into wealth. A clean, vibrant and healthy plastics recycling industry is needed to support more effective recycling of plastics from Malaysian households and prevent littering which pollutes our environment.


As representatives of the plastics recycling industry, Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) and Malaysian Plastics Recyclers Association (MPRA) hope that Budget 2020 will contain allocations for programmes under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to improve household waste separation, especially the separation of recyclable plastics.


Authorities need to find new ways of reducing and preventing littering, which could be achieved through a small-grant Litter Innovation Fund, for example, under the purview of the Ministry. Small grants could be awarded to spur anti-littering programmes and studies or subsidise infrastructure or equipment. A Litter Innovation Fund has been established in England, UK, to support innovative research projects that have the potential to be scaled up, or applied more widely, with grant recipients required to match a proportion of the funding, and deliver their projects within six months.


Alternatively establishing a fund for projects that encourage more effective separation of households’ recyclable plastic waste would produce more homogenous and higher quality plastic waste streams and reduce contamination. This in turn raises the recovery rate of recyclables and prevents valuable material from being disposed in landfill. Well-designed programmes supported by such a fund would also engage communities and raise awareness of waste reduction and recycling which in turn supports behaviour change among households.


On a related platform, a Circular Economy Fund could be established to accelerate Malaysia’s transition towards a circular economy which keeps resources in the economy through reusing and recycling, instead of being disposed in landfill. Encouraging the use of recycled materials in the making of new products is a core principle of the Circular Economy.


Such a fund would aim to support manufacturers who use recycled plastics and other recycled materials in their products, for example, or incentivise design projects that drive innovation to make recycling easier which in turn raises the value of recyclables, and ensures a higher quality of recyclates.


These and similar measures should be key components to the Dasar Plastik which is to be drafted by the Housing and Local Government Ministry, as a foundation for a sustainable waste management system for Malaysia, thus contributing to Malaysia’s transition to a circular economy.


Meanwhile, the plastics recycling industry itself has recognised the need to escape the lower end of the value chain, and for upgrading the technology it relies on. Aside from a clear regulatory and investment framework, incentives such as a reinvestment allowance for plastics recycling industry would support the development of a clean, advanced and modern industry.


With a large proportion among Malaysian plastics recyclers being small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), reinvestment allowances would help in obtaining the necessary resources to advance and invest in new technologies and machines in order to compete, and consistently meet the high quality that export markets demand. An increase in the allocation of market development grant would incentivise SMEs to drive their export promotional activities, through attending international exhibitions.


Malaysia needs a sustainable and viable plastics recycling industry to support its industrial and manufacturing sectors, and that means well-designed and effective policies and regulations to strengthen Malaysia’s waste management system and prevent improperly disposed plastics from polluting the environment.


Malaysia is in critical need of wider collaboration, as managing the flows of plastics from cradle to the grave is a multi-stakeholder undertaking. MPMA and MPRA have made a commitment to supporting this collaborative process, as outlined in the joint white paper ‘An Advanced Plastics Recycling Industry for Malaysia’ launched on October 1, 2019. This will support Malaysia’s position as a thriving manufacturing and trading economy, while transitioning to a sustainable recycling nation.



7 OCTOBER 2019

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