Ministries and Coordination Mechanism

Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018–2030 first addressed the establishment of an institutional framework and governance mechanism to combat single-use plastic pollution issues including marine plastic litter. Through the Ministry and Environment and Water (KASA) (formerly the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change [MESTECC]), the Federal Government leads the implementation of the Roadmap by undertaking the necessary coordination among the stakeholders. The State Governments play major role in implementing the actions proposed in the Roadmap, through respective Local Governments that are under the purview of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan [KPKT]) and the Ministry of Federal Territories (Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan [KWP]). A team is formed as the government coordination mechanism, which is divided into a joint ministerial committee and joint steering committee.

Taking on the major functions of the coordination team, the Joint Ministerial Committee provides an overall direction for the roadmap implementation; ensures that all actions are implemented timely and effectively; monitors the progress towards goals and targets set; facilitates the implementation of actions among the states, districts, and local governments; provides an avenue for inter-agency planning amongst the state agencies; and identifies means to strengthen cooperation between the Federal and the State Governments. The membership structure of the committee is as listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Membership Structure of the Joint Ministerial Committee

Malaysia : Ministries and Coordination Mechanism (Table 1)

Co-Chairman Minister of KASA
Minister of KPKT
Members Minister of KASA
Minister of KPKT
Environment and local government executive committee of each state
Secretary general or representatives from federal and state agencies
Other members by invitation

Source: Government of Malaysia (2018).

On the other hand, the joint steering committee plays role to ensure that the coordination team functions well; collects and reviews inputs from the institutions, committees, and forums to further assess the effectiveness of the implementation of actions; ensures that resources are mobilised in a timely manner; resolves conflicts; and mobilises ad-hoc taskforces for specific issues. The membership structure of the committee is as listed in Table 2.

Table 2. Membership Structure of the Joint Steering Committee

Malaysia : Ministries and Coordination Mechanism (Table 2)

Co-Chairman Secretary General of KASA
Secretary General of KPKT
Member Secretary General of KASA
Secretary General of KPKT
State Secretary
Representatives from federal and state agencies
Other members by invitation

Source: Government of Malaysia (2018).

From a broad perspective of plastic management in Malaysia, different ministries and government agencies are involved from upstream to downstream along the entire plastic value chain (Table 3).

Table 3. Ministries and Authorities Along the Plastic Value Chain in Malaysia

Malaysia : Ministries and Coordination Mechanism (Table 3)

Ministry Authority
Prime Minister Department Overall planning for a comprehensive socioeconomic development towards sustainable and inclusive growth through formulation of the Malaysia Plans, provision of directives to all ministries and government agencies on specific initiatives (e.g. phasing out of single-use plastic products in government offices).
Ministry of International Trade and Industry Overseeing the manufacturing of plastic resin and plastic products (e.g. facilitating manufacturing activities, providing incentives and support, approving investment).
Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Overseeing matters related to domestic markets, plastic product consumption (e.g. domestic trade, pricing for products) and consumption behaviours, etc.
Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) General solid waste management (e.g. overall planning of the entire solid waste management system, setting of recycling targets, control of waste plastic importation).
Ministry and Environment and Water (KASA) Specific plastic waste management, especially illegal waste plastic importation, marine plastics, and other plastic pollution (e.g. implementing the Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018–2030 and the new Plastic Sustainability Roadmap 2021–2030, overseeing the establishment of Malaysia Plastics Pact, enforcing related national policy as the focal point for Basel Convention, ensuring compliance with environmental standards).


Government of Malaysia (2018), Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018–2030. Putrajaya: MESTECC. (accessed 31 May 2021).

National Laws and Regulation

Malaysia has several basic national policies, laws and regulations, which are directly and indirectly related to waste (including hazardous waste) management.

National Policy on the Environment 2002 was set up for continuous economic, social, and cultural progress and enhancement of the quality of life of Malaysians through environmentally sound and sustainable development. The policy aims to (i) provide  a clean environment, safe, healthy, and productive environment for present and future generations; (ii) conserve the country’s unique and diverse cultural and natural heritage with effective participation by all sectors of society; and (iii) sustain lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production.

National Solid Waste Management Policy was first introduced in 2006, and revised later in 2016. It aims to establish a solid waste management system that is holistic, integrated, cost-effective, sustainable, and acceptable to the community with emphasises on the concept of waste management hierarchy.

National Green Technology Policy 2009 aims to significantly improve energy, buildings, water and waste management, and transport. In the water and waste management sector, it provides strategic thrusts on the adoption of green technology in the management and utilisation of water resources, wastewater treatment, solid waste, and sanitary landfill.

National Cleanliness Policy 2019 outlines 14 strategies and 91 action plans within 2020–2030, grouped into five clusters: awareness of cleanliness, environmental sustainability, circular economy, governance and enforcement, and quality and skilled human capital. One of the strategies in circular economy cluster is implementing extended producer responsibility (EPR) to promote recycling through an EPR implementation plan, an EPR roadmap, reverse vending machine, and stakeholder engagement platform.

Environmental Quality Act 1974 mentions provision on prohibition and control of pollution (Part IV), including restriction on pollution of the atmosphere (Article 22), the soil (Article 24) and inland waters (Article 25), prohibition of discharge of wastes into Malaysian waters (Article 29), prohibition on open burning (Article 30), power to require occupier to install, operate, and repair (Article 31). Article 29 states that ‘[n]o person shall, unless licenced, discharge environmentally hazardous substances, pollutants, or wastes into the Malaysian waters’.

Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005 classify scheduled wastes. Rags, plastics, papers or filters contaminated with either inorganic or organic constituents (SW 410) is classified as the scheduled waste, which requires treatment, disposal or recovery at prescribed premises.

Promotion of Investments Act 1986 gives fiscal incentives for the manufacture of biodegradable packaging and household ware as well as waste-recycling activities listed as promoted products and activities (UNEP, 2018). Manufacturers and promoters of such products and activities are eligible for pioneer status and investment tax allowance.

Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007, part IV, states that any solid waste management services and facilities or any public cleansing management services require a licence from the Director General of Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management. Chapter 30(1) of part V states that ‘[t]he Minister may from time to time prescribe, either separately or as a consolidated rate, controlled solid waste charges, fees, or levy which shall be paid by (a) the owner; (b) the occupier; (c) the local authority; or (d) any other person, to whom solid waste management services are provided under this Act’. In line with part IV, part VIII states that all controlled solid waste shall be deposited, treated, kept, stored, or disposed of only at licenced solid waste management facilities. In addition, any person in possession of any controlled solid waste shall take all reasonable measures to prevent the escape of any controlled solid waste from his possession. Reduction, reuse, and recycling efforts are enhanced by imposing several requirements in part X, including a take-back system and deposit refund system. Malaysia has, since September 2015, enforced mandatory solid waste separation, especially at the source of waste, in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Kedah, and Perlis (Yusof et al., 2019).


Government of Malaysia (1974), Environmental Quality Act 1974  (accessed 03 October 2019).

Government of Malaysia (1986), Promotion of Investments Act 1986 (accessed 03 October 2019).

Government of Malaysia (2002), National Policy on the Environment 2002 (accessed 14 March 2022).

Government of Malaysia (2005), Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005 (accessed 14 March 2022).

Government of Malaysia (2007), Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (accessed 03 October 2019).

Government of Malaysia (2009), National Green Technology Policy 2009 (accessed 14 March 2022).

Government of Malaysia (2016), National Solid Waste Management Policy 2016 (accessed 14 March 2022).

Government of Malaysia (2019), National Cleanliness Policy 2019 (accessed 14 March 2022).

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2018), Legal Limits on Single-Use Plastics and Microplastics: A Global Review of National Laws and Regulations. UNEP. (accessed 03 October 2019).

Yusof, K., F. Ismail, J. Yunus, N. Kasmuni, R. Ramele@Ramli, M. Omar, I. Jabar, and H. Mustaffa (2019), ‘Community Participation and Performance of Waste Segregation Program in Malacca: Towards Sustainable Waste Management’, MATEC Web of Conferences, 266, pp.02003.

Local Regulations

In line with the laws and regulations implemented in the national level, some States and Local Governments have enacted their policies or local by-laws and implemented various initiatives in addressing the plastic issues.

Local Governments who have not adopted the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (e.g., Selangor, Penang), have their own decision-making power as the Local Governments, following the Local Government Act 1976. The States that have adopted the Act on the other hand, are controlled by the National Solid Waste Management Department and Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Corporation under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

As a State Government, for instance, Selangor has declared every Saturday a ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ since 1 January 2010, charging RM0.20 for each plastic bag provided to the consumers. The State aims to reduce the use of plastic bags and to increase consumer awareness of the negative impacts of using plastic bags (Kamaruddin and Yusuf, 2012). From 01 January 2017, Selangor has further strengthened their initiatives and have enforced plastic bag-free 7 days a week including the ban of the use of polystyrene containers, in which the violators would face a fine of up to RM1,000. The initiatives were later extended to single-use plastics ban in all government agencies and “no plastic straw” policy from 01 July 2019.

While in Penang, the State Government has implemented their own state-wide “No Plastic Bag 1.0” even earlier since 2009. Penang was the first state to introduce the ‘No Free Plastic Bags’ campaign, starting on 6 July 2009, with the no-free-plastic-bag-on-Mondays ruling (Jamil and Mustakim, 2011). It was extended to 3 days a week on 1 January 2010 and every day on 1 January 2011 for hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies, fast-food outlets, nasi kandar [curry rice] restaurants, and convenience stores (including petrol stations) (Penang Green Council, 2019). The collected RM0.20 charge for each plastic bag use is donated to the Hardcore Poverty Fund to assist the poor. Penang brought the initiative one step further with a 3-month trial of a policy in July 2019 of not providing plastic bags to shoppers on Mondays even if they are willing to pay the RM 0.20 charge (The Star, 2019). The ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ was extended to every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday starting from October 2020. Since 01 January 2021, the charge for plastic bag from Thursdays to Saturdays was increased to RM1.00 each (Penang Green Council, 2021).

On 01 April 2019, Kedah joined the movement by imposing a ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ every Friday and Saturday by charging a fee for plastic bags given to consumers. Plastic bags, straws, and styrofoam are also banned. Restaurants, hawkers, and convenience stores must follow the ‘no straw by default’ policy, except for vulnerable people or young children who may still need to use straws (Kwong Wah, 2019).

Future efforts should be harmonised with the action plans as targeted in Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018–2030. For instance, the Roadmap cites the role of Local Governments in utilising compostable garbage bags for garden waste collection and in collecting pollution charges. Local Governments hold the key to achieving the Roadmap targets, possibly through different approaches, the success of which should be brought to the national level.


Government of Malaysia (1976), Local Government Act 1976. (accessed 28 October 2019).

Government of Malaysia (2007), Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (accessed 08 December 2021).

Government of Malaysia (2018), Malaysias Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 20182030. Putrajaya: MESTECC. (accessed 31 May 2021).

Jamil, S.S and N.S. Mustakim (2017), Public survey: the public perception of the state policy implementation of no plastic bag everyday in Penang. Penang Green Council and State Economic Development Division. (accessed 28 October 2019).

Kamaruddin, R. and M.M. Yusuf (2012), Selangor Government’s No plastic Bag Day Campaign: Motivation and Acceptance LevelProcedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 42, pp.20511.

Kwong Wah (2019), 4月1日起吉打逢周五及六 全面推广禁用塑料袋运动 [From 1 April, Kedah will promote the movement to ban plastic bags every Friday and Saturday]. (accessed 28 October 2019).

Penang Green Council (2019), ‘Background No Free Plastic Bag’. (accessed 28 October 2019).

Penang Green Council (2021), ‘No Free Plastic Day Campaign’. (accessed 28 December 2021).

The Star (2019), ‘Supermarkets keeping money from plastic bag sale’. (accessed 28 October 2019).

Action Plans and Roadmaps

The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) of Malaysia (currently known as the Ministry of Environment and Water [KASA]) published Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018–2030 on September 2018. Target items and measures on the Roadmap are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Target Items and Measures on Single-Use Plastics

Malaysia : Action Plans and Roadmaps (Table 1)

Items Period Measure
Drinking straw 2019 No straw as default; straws given free upon request, in fixed premises
2022 Expand to non-fixed premises
Garbage bag of garden waste collection 2019 Local governments to utilise compostable garbage bags for garden waste collection 
Single-use plastic bag 2019–2021 Pollution charge imposed by state governments (fixed premises)
2022 Nationwide pollution charge
Food packaging, plastic film, cutlery, food container, polybag and plant pot, slow-release fertiliser 2022–2025 Expand scope of biodegradable and compostable products
Single-use medical devices (e.g. catheters), diapers and feminine hygiene products, other single-use plastics that cannot enter the circular economy 2026–2030 Expand scope of biodegradable and compostable products

Source: Government of Malaysia (2018).

During phase 1 (2018–2020) of the Roadmap implementation, several key policies have been adopted in Malaysia. These include: (a) limiting SIRIM eco-labelling only for biodegradable and compostable packaging, excluding oxo- and photo-degradable packaging, (b) plastic bag pollution charge (RM0.2 each), and (c) no straw as default.

Specific to single-use plastics, other identified actions are introducing incentives on eco-friendly products, revising eco-labelling on plastics, and formulating a circular economy roadmap for bottles, single-use plastics, and others.

On 27 January 2022, KASA issued the National Marine Litter Policy and Action Plan 2021–2030 (NMLPAP). The plan highlights priority areas and actions to address marine litter pollution in Malaysia. The purpose and objective of the NMLPAP is to guide national actions to address marine litter, as follows:

  1. Address marine litter pollution through robust policy development.
  2. Document concrete steps ahead on tackling marine litter pollution based on scientific evidence and lessons learnt from international, regional, and local efforts.
  3. Coordinate efforts at every level of the federal government, state government, local government, as well as public, private, and social sectors.
  4. Foster further research and innovation to prevent, monitor, and tackle marine litter pollution.
  5. Deploy and implement cutting-edge technologies and innovation backed by strong national standards and guidelines, as well as a strengthened institutional and legal framework to ensure that Malaysia is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle marine plastic pollution.
  6. Promote sharing of best practices and lessons learnt, whilst enhancing regional and international cooperation, and creating awareness and instigating behavioural change.
  7. Increase access to finance and facilitate private sector engagement to promote investment, trade and market creation, and market-based incentives in industries and activities that enable marine litter management and prevention.

The NMLPAP will be coordinated and implemented by KASA, which will serve as the focal point in cooperation with key stakeholders, target groups, and responsible agencies. Three working groups are expected to be formed under a national steering committee headed by KASA, focussing on science and technology; policy; and communication, education, and public awareness. The NMLPAP contains six desired national outcomes, to be implemented through 17 identified actions and 103 key activities, under five priority pillars  (Table 2).

Table 2. Identified Actions in National Marine Litter Policy and Action Plan 2021–2030

Malaysia : Action Plans and Roadmaps (Table 2)

No. Priority Pillar Actions
1. Policy adoption and implementation (Action 1) Promote national policy dialogues on prevention and reduction of marine litter from land- and sea-based activities by highlighting the issue, sharing information and knowledge, and strengthening national and regional coordination.

(Action 2) Create mainstream multi-sectoral policy measures to address marine litter in national development agenda and priorities

(Action 3) In close cooperation with ASEAN countries, implement relevant international laws and agreements related to waste management, including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the Basel Convention, and United Nations Environment Assembly resolutions related to marine litter and microplastics.

(Action 4) Implement and conduct a periodic review of the

National Action Plan, through integrated source-to-sea policy interventions that are harmonised with ASEAN and other regional and global frameworks (e.g. Global Partnership on Marine Litter, Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter).
2. Deployment of technologies, innovation, and capacity building (Action 5) Identify and deploy appropriate technologies and standards to tackle sources of marine litter pollution.

(Action 6) Encourage private sector contribution to combating marine litter pollution.

(Action 7) Gain access to funding and incentives.

(Action 8) Enhance scientific knowledge and transfer of technology and promote innovative solutions to combat marine litter.

(Action 9) Promote integration and application of scientific

knowledge to enhance science-based decisions and policies on marine litter prevention and management.
3. Improvement in monitoring and data collection on marine litter (Action 10) Compile a national baseline on status and impacts of marine litter.

(Action 11) Strengthen national and local capacities to harmonise monitoring and assessment tools for marine litter data, including national action plans/initiatives implementation.

(Action 12) Promote platforms for knowledge sharing, innovative solutions, and best practices to combat marine litter.
4. Communication, education and public awareness, and outreach (Action 13) Promote collaborative actions with private sector and industry associations to implement measures to address marine litter issues.

(Action 14) Accelerate citizen advocacy strategies/ programmes to combat marine litter through behavioural insights approach.

(Action 15) Promote public awareness on status and impacts of marine litter and microplastics.
5. Adoption of whole-of-nation and multi-stakeholder approach in harmonising cross-cutting objectives (Action 16) Address human-rights issues in informal sectors through the establishment of public-private partnerships.

(Action 17) Consider women’s role in advocating more sustainable consumer behaviour.

Source: Government of Malaysia (2022).

The implementation of the actions stipulated in the NMLPAP are reflected in a timeline shown as a roadmap, divided into short term (2021–2023), medium term (2024–2027), and long term (2028–2030).

Alongside the Roadmap and the NMLPAP, Malaysia has developed a Plastic Sustainability Roadmap 2021–2030, launched on 10 December 2021. One of its mandates is to enhance plastic circularity through EPR, with a national target towards the mandatory implementation by 2026.

EPR adoption will be initiated by considering the readiness and capabilities of the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. In the first two years, the government will advocate for EPR adoption through various capacity-building activities (e.g. establishment of a think tank, establishment of a technical working group for data-sharing platform) and INSPiRE programme (by showcasing private companies’ success stories to catalyse a sustainable plastic value chain). After such inception phase, voluntary EPR will be implemented in 2023–2025.

Managed by the assigned producer responsibility organisation, obliged companies will contribute through an eco-modulated fee to manage their post-consumer waste. The fee may vary based on production volume and turnover, as well as the material and its recoverability and recyclability. To guide a transition to mandatory EPR implementation in 2026, an EPR governance framework will be developed starting from 2022, incorporating the EPR target, responsibilities of each stakeholder, eco-modulated fee structure, and mechanism for product improvement.

The Roadmap also sets some reasonable national targets:

  1. Phasing out problematic single-use plastics
  2. 25% post-consumer plastic packaging to be recycled by 2025
  3. 100% recyclability of plastic packaging by 2030
  4. 15% average recycled content by 2030
  5. 76% average collected-for-recycling rate by 2025
  6. Post-consumer halal recycled polyethylene terephthalate standards by 2022.


Government of Malaysia (2018), Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018–2030. Putrajaya: MESTECC. (accessed 31 May 2021).

Government of Malaysia (2021), Malaysia Plastics Sustainability Roadmap, 2021-2030. (accessed 14 December 2021).

Government of Malaysia (2022), National Marine Litter Policy and Action Plan 2021–2030. (accessed 02 February 2022).