PORT KLANG: The Customs Department has issued a stern warning to shipping agents at seaports against releasing any containers bearing imported plastic waste.
The warning came about following the government's ban on the import of plastic waste, which took effect in July last year.
Customs director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy said his department will not release the containers for as long as one does not possess the approved permit (AP).
"If it is plastic waste, there is no way they will get the AP. We have issued a strict order to shipping agents not to unload plastic waste cargo.
“Anybody who is found to have wrongly declared the cargo, for instance if they bring in plastic waste and they declare it as ‘good plastic’ like polymers and resins, will have the forwarding agent licence revoked immediately.
"Those are the harsh steps we have taken to control the situation," Subromaniam told the New Straits Times.
Subromaniam said there are more than 100 containers of plastic waste which are currently stranded in Westports, here, due to the government crackdown.
Asked on the value of the containers, Subromiam said it was impossible to put a figure.
"This is rubbish. So how can we put a value to it?," he said.
He said his department would do all it takes to ensure no plastic waste would enter the country.
"We want to make sure that Malaysia is not being used as a dumping ground. We are going all out. We are working closely with the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change and National Solid Waste Department Management on this," added Subromaniam.
It was reported on Sunday that 120 containers, some of which have yet to be declared or were falsely declared, have been left stranded in Penang Port for months.
Penang Customs Department director Datuk Saidi Ismail described the situation as serious as they had no space to store the containers.
He said that a quick solution was needed.
Saidi said no declarations were made as the containers were awaiting the plastic waste AP.
Saidi was quoted as saying that the agents must first declare whether the containers are rubbish or plastic waste.
It has been left at the port here after the importers failed to produce the AP to bring in the items or have falsely declared the items as recycling waste when in fact it was rubbish, resulting in the authorities seizing the containers.
Investigations were underway with 16 investigation papers opened so far.