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Canadians go undercover at Sungai Petani plastic recycling plant

Free Malaysia Today logo Free Malaysia Today 28/9/2019 FMT Reporters
a group of people on a rock: Sungai Petani has been in the news for being an international dumpsite for plastic wastes. © Provided by FMT MEDIA SDN BHD Sungai Petani has been in the news for being an international dumpsite for plastic wastes.

GEORGE TOWN: A group of Canadian journalists who posed as plastic waste exporters exposed the inner workings of a recycling factory in Sungai Petani, Kedah, in a report.

With hidden cameras, CBC News revealed the squalid conditions of the factory, with lowly paid Bangladeshi workers wearing only T-shirts, sandals and no masks openly burning the plastics in a warehouse.

The workers, it said, earned around C$12 (RM38) a day, sometimes toiling seven days a week.

The news outlet set up a fake recycling company online and reached out to the recycler in Sungai Petani. It told the recycler it wanted to “let go” of a lot of Canadian plastics there.

“The factory was willing to buy the dirty plastics being offered, and said they would break the country’s strict importing laws to do it, advising the journalists to lie on the shipping container labels,” the report read.

The recycler suggested to the fake company to “start trying with two to four” containers.

Asked if they would be shut down if the government found out what they were doing, the recycler said “yes”.

Sungai Petani has been in the news since early this year, with residents complaining about poor air quality believed to be from open burning carried out by the illegal factories, estimated to number more than 50.

The authorities had taken action against the factories by sealing them and cutting off power supply, but some appear to carry on operating as usual or have moved to other locations not far away.

FMT recently reported the discovery of a large dumpsite in Sungai Petani, with waste from Europe and Pakistan scattered in a jungle clearing and set alight by scavengers looking to sell metal bits.

The Kedah government cleared the site, reportedly billing the land owner for it, while vowing to eradicate illegal plastic waste plants.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamarudin said at the time that there were only five plastic recycling factories operating legally within the Majlis Perbandaran Sungai Petani (MPSPK) jurisdiction, with 21 others sealed by the council.

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