KUALA LANGAT (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Some of them were hidden in the deep nooks of the villages.
Others kept the plastic waste out in the open space, exposed to nature and possibly becoming a health hazard.
All these illegal plastic recycling factories and waste dumping sites in Kuala Langat, Selangor, were "exposed" when Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin made a surprise visit on Tuesday (Sept 25).
"We will give these factories and sites reasonable time to dispose of the waste at a proper designated place once and for all.
"They must clear up, failing which we will take action against the factory owner or the landowner such as blacklisting them," she told reporters.
Madam Zuraida went to see the situation herself following a meeting with various agencies over the issue of factories illegally importing and processing plastic waste, which prompted complaints from residents who were upset with the pollution and health issues.
"The immediate action that I requested following the visit was for the Kuala Langat District Council to file a police report to request for more information about the landowners, tenants and log of the lorries hired to ferry waste to and from the sites," she said.
She was accompanied by officers from the district council, the Department of Environment, and NGO Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat.
In July, the ministry revoked the approved permit (AP) on plastic waste imports, affecting 114 legal plastic recycling factories all over Malaysia for three months until Oct 23.
This move was taken in light of reports of serious pollution in Kuala Langat purportedly caused by factories involved in processing plastic waste.
In Kuala Langat alone, there are 24 illegal plastic waste factories and another 17 which were ordered to close down.
There are 13 legal plastic waste factories in the district.
All of them will be called for a meeting with the ministry on Oct 2.
It is believed that the plastic waste imports are coming from countries like New Zealand, Australia and Britain after China recently banned plastic imports.
Illegal plastic recycling factories and waste dumping sites in Kuala Langat are hidden inside oil palm plantations or villages where there is access to land for burying waste and water bodies to dump contaminants.
The sites are surrounded by tall piles of plastic waste while the smell of chemicals permeated the air.