An Analysis of Practices and Challenges for Plastic Recycling Industry in Malaysia
Ming Hui Tan*, Meng Soon Chiong*,**,, Yoon-Young Chun***, Kenichiro Tsukahara***, and Kiyotaka Tahara***
*School of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)
Johor Bahru, Johor 81310, Malaysia
**UTM LoCARtic, IVeSE, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Johor Bahru, Malaysia
***National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Japan
There is a significant increase in plastic consumption with the growing economies of Asia, causing severe environmental issues as a large proportion of the plastic waste is not appropriately disposed due to the underdeveloped collection systems. The situation in Malaysia is particularly worrying as the total plastic waste increased by nearly 30% in 2018, becoming the second-highest of the entire household solid waste. This problem can be addressed by improving the plastic waste management system and increasing the plastic wastes recycling rate. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the current situation of plastic waste generation. Malaysia’s waste management framework is a unique integration of the formal and informal sectors. The lack of uniformity has been the main challenge for the policy implementation in improving plastic waste management. From the plastic material flow analysis, only 41.4% of the plastic wastes were recycled in 2019. The most recycled plastic types in Malaysia are high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polypropylene (PP), as they are easier to collect and have higher density. From the identified plastic recycling process flow, the main challenge is low recyclability. Most recyclables are usually contaminated with food waste or non-recyclable plastic, which hinders the sorting process. Informing the public how to recycle plastic waste properly can increase the effectiveness of recyclables collection as well as the sorting process.
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