Malaysia Ranks 5th Globally in Ocean Plastic Pollution, Study Finds

Malaysia ranks 5th globally in ocean plastic pollution, generating over 1M tonnes annually. Greenpeace urges signing global plastic treaty to address this crisis. Government initiatives aim to improve recycling and reduce single-use plastics.

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Muhammad Jawad
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Malaysia Ranks 5th Globally in Ocean Plastic Pollution, Study Finds

Malaysia Ranks 5th Globally in Ocean Plastic Pollution, Study Finds

Malaysia ranks as the 5th highest country globally in polluting the ocean with 2.29 kg of plastic waste per capita annually, according to a study by UK-based energy provider Utility Bidder. The report found that Malaysia is one of the worst offenders in plastic waste mismanagement, with each person in the country guilty of mismanaging 25.49 kg per year, placing it 10th in the Plastic Polluters report.

Greenpeace has urged Malaysia to ink the global plastic treaty to end plastic pollution by the end of 2040, as the country is one of the biggest plastic manufacturers in the world but lacks the capacity to deal with the waste. The report also highlighted the lack of enforcement and monitoring from authorities, as well as the lack of transparency and public access to investigate regulatory compliance in importing plastic waste.

Malaysia generates over 1 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, but the overall recycling rate is just 33%, well below the national target of 40% by 2025. The country's extensive coastline and high rainfall make it susceptible to marine pollution, with Malaysia ranked as the 3rd largest contributor to plastic waste in the oceans.

Why this matters: Plastic pollution in the oceans has far-reaching consequences for marine life, ecosystems, and human health. As a major contributor to this global problem, Malaysia's efforts to address plastic waste mismanagement and improve recycling rates will be critical in the fight against ocean pollution.

In response to the issue, the Malaysian government is pursuing a national policy on the production, consumption, and disposal of plastic in line with the ongoing negotiations of the Global Plastic Treaty (GPT) aligned with environmental sustainability objectives. The government has established the Malaysian Plastic Sustainability Roadmap (2021-2030) and the Malaysian Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics (2018-2030), and the Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Minister has instructed a review of legislation governing plastic pollution to strengthen measures in addressing this issue.

The Department of Fisheries (DOF) in Malaysia has been conducting studies on microplastic and macroplastic pollution in the country's aquatic environment since 2019, particularly on the northwest and east coasts, and in commercial fish tissue and shellfish. The findings reveal that the types of plastics commonly found are rayon, polyethylene, and polypropylene, which are commonly used in daily life, such as in the clothing industry, food packaging, and various other industries.

The DOF stated that "chemicals used in plastic manufacturing, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, can leach into the environment and food sources, leading to concerns regarding their long-term effects on human health." The department called on all parties, including the government, the business community, and the general public, to join forces in preserving the Earth from the devastating effects of plastic pollution.

Key Takeaways

  • Malaysia ranks 5th globally in polluting oceans with 2.29 kg plastic waste per capita.
  • Malaysia is 10th worst in plastic waste mismanagement at 25.49 kg per person annually.
  • Malaysia generates over 1 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, with 33% recycling rate.
  • Malaysia is a major plastic manufacturer but lacks capacity to manage the waste.
  • Plastic pollution threatens marine life, ecosystems, and human health in Malaysia.