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Environmental Management

1 Policy

To promote environmentally sound and sustainable development, the Malaysian government has established the legal and institutional framework for environmental protection. Investors are encouraged to consider the environmental factors during the early stages of their project planning. Aspects of pollution control include possible modifications in the process line to minimise waste generation, seeing pollution prevention as part of the production process, and focusing on recycling options.

Environmental Management Policy

The National Policy on the Environment aims at continued economic, social, and cultural progress of Malaysia and enhancement of the quality of life of its people, through environmentally sound and sustainable development.

The Policy aims at achieving:

  • A clean, safe, healthy and productive environment for present and future generations
  • The conservation of the country's unique and diverse cultural and natural heritage with effective participation by all sectors of society
  • A sustainable lifestyle and pattern of consumption and production

Malaysia's national environmental policy emphasises:

  • Exercising respect and care for the environment in accordance with the highest moral and ethical standards
  • Conserving the natural ecosystems to ensure the integrity of biodiversity and life support systems
  • Ensuring continuous improvement in the productivity and quality of the environment while pursuing economic growth and human development objectives
  • Managing natural resource utilisation to sustain the resource base and prevent degradation of the environment
  • Integrating environmental dimensions in the planning and implementation of the policies, objectives and mandates of all sectors to protect the environment
  • Strengthening the role of the private sector in environmental protection and management
  • Ensuring the highest commitment to environmental protection and accountability by all decision-makers in the public and private sectors, resource users, non-governmental organisations and the general public in formulating, planning and implementing their activities
  • Participating actively and effectively in regional and global efforts towards environmental conservation and enhancement

For the Japanese version of Malaysia's environmental regulations, please visit http://www.apec-vc.or.jp/apec_j/malaysia/index.htm

2 Environmental Requirements

The Environmental Quality Act 1974, and its accompanying regulations call for environmental impact assessment, project siting evaluation, pollution control assessment, monitoring and self-enforcement. Industrial activities are required to obtain the following approvals from the Director-General of Environmental Quality prior to project implementation:

Environmental Impact Assessment for Prescribed Activities

An investor should first of allcheck whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required for his proposed industrial activities. The following are activities prescribed under the Environmental Quality (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 1987, which require an EIA before project approval:


(i) Agriculture

a. Land development schemes covering an area of 500 hectares or more to bring forest land into agricultural production.
b. Agricultural programmes necessitating the resettlement of 100 families or more.
c. Development of agricultural estates covering an area of 500 hectares or more involving changes in types of agricultural use.


(ii) Airport

a. Construction of airports (having an airstrip of 2,500 metres or longer).
b. Airstrip development in state and national parks.


(iii) Drainage and Irrigation

a. Construction of dams and man-made lakes and artificial enlargement of lakes with surface areas of 200 hectares or more.
b. Drainage of wetland, wild-life habitat or of virgin forest covering an area of 100 hectares or more.
c. Irrigation schemes covering an area of 5,000 hectares or more.


(iv) Land Reclamation

Coastal reclamation involving an area of 50 hectares or more.


(v) Fisheries

a. Construction of fishing harbours.
b. Harbour expansion involving an increase of 50 per cent or more in fish landing capacity per annum.
c. Land-based aquaculture projects accompanied by clearing of mangrove swamp forests covering an area of 50 hectares or more.


(vi) Forestry

a. Conversion of hill forest land to other land use covering an area of 50 hectares or more.
b. Logging or conversion of forest land to other land use within the catchment area of reservoirs used for municipal water supply, irrigation or hydro-power generation or in areas adjacent to state and national parks and national marine parks.
c. Logging covering an area of 500 hectares or more.
d. Conversion of mangrove swamps for industrial, housing or agricultural use covering an area of 50 hectares or more.
e. Clearing of mangrove swamps on islands adjacent to national marine parks.


(vii) Housing

Housing development covering an area of 50 hectares or more.


(viii) Industry

a. Chemicals Where production capacity of each product or of combined products is greater than 100 tonnes per day
b. Petrochemicals All Sizes
c. Non-ferrous Primary smelting:
Aluminium - all sizes
Copper - all sizes
Others - producing 50 tonnes per day and above of products
d. Non-metallic Cement - for clinker throughput of 30 tonnes per hour and above
Lime - 100 tonnes per day and above burnt lime rotary kiln or 50 tonnes per day and above vertical kiln
e. Iron and Steel Require iron ore as raw materials for production greater than 100 tonnes per day; or
Using scrap iron as raw materials for production greater than 200 tonnes per day
f. Shipyards Dead Weight Tonnage greater than 5,000 tonnes
g. Pulp and Paper Industry Production capacity greater than 50 tonnes per day


(ix) Infrastructure

a. Construction of hospitals with outfall into beachfronts used for recreational purposes.
b. Industrial estate development for medium and heavy industries covering an area of 50 hectares or more.
c. Construction of expressways.
d. Construction of national highways.
e. Construction of new townships.


(x) Ports

a. Construction of ports.
b. Port expansion involving an increase of 50 per cent or more in handling capacity per annum.


(xi) Mining

a. Mining of minerals in new areas where the mining lease covers a total area in excess of 250 hectares.
b. Ore processing, including concentrating for aluminium, copper, gold or tantalum.
c. Sand dredging involving an area of 50 hectares or more.


(xii) Petroleum

a. Oil and gas fields development.
b. Construction of off-shore and on-shore pipelines in excess of 50 kilometres in length.
c. Construction of oil and gas separation, processing, handling, and storage facilities.
d. Construction of oil refineries.
c. Construction of product depots for the storage of petrol, gas or diesel (excluding service stations) which are located within three kilometres of any commercial, industrial or residential areas and which have a combined storage capacity of 60,000 barrels or more.


(xiii) Power Generation and Transmission

a. Construction of steam generated power stations burning fossil fuels and having a capacity of more than 10 megawatts.
b. Dams and hydro-electric power schemes with either or both of the following:
- dams over 15 metres high and ancillary structures covering a total area in excess of 40 hectares;
- reservoirs with a surface area in excess of 400 hectares
c. Construction of combined cycle power stations.
d. Construction of nuclear-fueled power stations.


(xiv) Quarries

Proposed quarrying of aggregate, limestone, silica, quartzite, sandstone, marble and decorative building stone within 3 kilometres of any existing residential, commercial or industrial areas, or any area for which a licenselicence, permit or approval has been granted for residential, commercial or industrial development.


(xv) Railways

a. Construction of new routes.
b. Construction of branch lines.


(xvi) Transportation

Construction of Mass Rapid Transport projects.


(xvii) Resort and Recreational Development

a. Construction of coastal resort facilities or hotels with more than 80 rooms.
b. Hill station resort or hotel development covering an area of 50 hectares or more.
c. Development of tourist or recreational facilities in national parks.
d. Development of tourist or recreational facilities on islands in surrounding waters which are gazetted as national marine parks.


(xviii) Waste Treatment and Disposal

a. Toxic and Hazardous Waste
- Construction of incineration plant
- Construction of recovery plant (off-site)
- Construction of wastewater treatment plant (off-site)
- Construction of secure landfill facility
- Construction of storage facility
b. Municipal Solid Waste
- Construction of incineration plant ­
- Construction of composting plant
- Construction of recovery/recycling plant
- Construction of municipal solid waste landfill facility
c. Municipal Sewage
- Construction of wastewater treatment plant
- Construction of marine outfall


(xix) Water Supply

a. Construction of dams or impounding reservoirs with a surface area of 200 hectares or more
b. Groundwater development for industrial, agricultural or urban water supply of greater than 4,500 cubic metres per day
Who Can Conduct EIA Study

An EIA study has to be conducted by competent individuals who are registered with the Department of Environment (DOE) under the EIA Consultant Registration Scheme. The list of registered EIA consultants and details on the registration scheme are available at the DOE website, http://www.doe.gov.my

Site Suitability Evaluation

One of the most important factors in obtaining environmental approval is the site suitability of the proposed project. Site suitability is evaluated based on the compatibility of the project with respect to the gazetted structure or local plans, surrounding land-use, provision of set-backs or buffer zones, the capacity of the area to receive additional pollution load, and waste disposal requirements.

Site suitabality evaluation (SSE) has become the main process in ensuring site suitability for all development projects that are referred to DOE. As such, SSE has to be undertaken first for both prescribed and non-prescribed activities. For prescribed activities, SSE must be done before the EIA is conducted to ensure the site selected is suitable for the proposed activity and compatible with its surrounding land-use. This also helps the project proponent to save costs conducting EIA if the site is deemed unsuitable.

The Department of Environment (DOE) produces a set of guidelines entitled "Guidelines for the Siting and Zoning of Industries" which specifies details on the appropriate buffer zone for each specific industry category. For potentially hazardous industries, the project proponent may be required to submit a Risk Assessment to the DOE as part of the site consideration.

Written Notification or Permission to Construct

Any person intending to carry out activities as listed below must provide prior written notification to the Director-General of Environmental Quality:

i. Carry out any work on any premises or construct any building that may discharge or release industrial effluent or mixed effluent, or make or cause or permit a material change in the quantity or quality of discharge from an existing source, onto or into any soil, or into inland waters or Malaysian waters, other than premises as specified in the First Schedule under Environmental Quality (Industrial Effluent) Regulations, 2009;
ii. Discharge or release or permit the discharge of sewage onto or into any soil, or into any inland waters or Malaysia waters, other than any housing or commercial development or both having a population equivalent of less than one hundred and fifty (150) as specified under Environmental Quality (Sewage) Regulations, 2009;
iii. Carry out on any land any facility or building that may result in a new source of leachate discharge or release as specified under Environmental Quality (Control of Pollution from Solid Waste Transfer Station and Landfill) Regulations, 2009.

Any person intending to construct on any land or any building; or carrying out work that would cause the land or building to become prescribed premises (crude palm oil mills, raw natural rubber processing mills, and treatment and disposal facilities of scheduled wastes), as stipulated under Section 19 of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974 must obtain prior written permission from the Director-General of Environmental Quality. Such application has to be accompanied by a prescribed fee.

Written Approval for Installation of Incinerator, Fuel Burning Equipment and Chimney

Applicants intending to carry out activities as listed below shall obtain prior written approval from the Director-General of Environmental Quality:

i. New installation near dwelling area as detailed out in Regulation 4 and First Schedule of the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 1978.
ii. Any erection (including incinerators), installation, resiting or alteration of fuel burning equipment that is rated to consume pulverised fuel or solid fuel at 30 kg or more per hour, or liquid or gaseous fuel at 15 kg or more per hour as stipulated in Regulations 36 and 38 of the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 1978.
iii. Any erection, installation, resiting, or alteration of any chimney from or through which air impurities may be emitted or discharged, respectively.

No fee is imposed on the application for written approval.

Licence to Occupy Prescribed Premises and Prescribed Conveyances

A licence is required to occupy and operate prescribed premises, namely as below:

i. crude palm oil mills,
ii. raw natural rubber processing mills, and
iii. treatment and disposal facilities of scheduled wastes

A licence is required to use prescribed conveyances as stipulated in the Environmental Quality (Prescribed Conveyance) (Scheduled Wastes) Order 2005. Conveyance which is categorised as prescribed conveyance namely, any vehicle or ship of any description which is:

i. propelled by a mechanism contained within itself;
ii. constructed or adapted to be used on land or water; and
iii. used for the movement, transfer, placement or deposit of scheduled wastes.

Applications for the licence shall be made after obtaining written permission and/or written approval. Licensing fees apply for every licence issued for palm oil and raw natural rubber processing mills and facilities for the treatment and disposal of scheduled wastes, and prescribed conveyances.

Gaseous Emission and Effluent Standards

Industries are required to comply with air emission, industrial effluent, sewage and leachate discharge standards which are regarded as acceptable conditions allowed in Malaysia, as stipulated in the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 1978, Environmental Quality (Industrial Effluents) Regulations 2009, Environmental Quality (Sewage) Regulations 2009, and Environmental Quality (Control of Pollution from Solid Waste Transfer Station and Landfill) Regulations 2009.

Control on Ozone Depleting Substances

Ozone depleting substances (ODS) are categorised as environmentally hazardous substances under the Environmental Quality (Refrigerant Management) Regulations 1999 and the Environmental Quality (Halon Management) Regulations 1999. New investments relating to the use of these substances are prohibited.

Scheduled Wastes Management

Malaysia has developed a comprehensive set of legal provisions related to the management of toxic and hazardous wastes. The regulation is based on the cradle to grave principle. A facility which generates, stores, transports, treats or disposes scheduled wastes is subject to the following main regulations:

i. Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005 (Amendment) 2007;
ii. Environmental Quality (Prescribed Conveyance) (Scheduled Wastes) Order 2005;
iii. Environmental Quality (Prescribed Premises) (Scheduled Wastes Treatment and Disposal Facilities) (Amendment) Order 2006;
iv. Environmental Quality (Prescribed Premises) (Scheduled Waste Treatment and Disposal Facilities) (Amendment) Regulations 2006;
v. Customs (Prohibition of Exports) Order (Amendment)(No. 5) Order 20068; and
vi. Customs (Prohibition of Imports) Order (Amendment)(No. 5) Order 20062008.


A Summary of Environmental Requirements on Scheduled Wastes

Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005 replaced the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 1989. Under these regulations, 77 types of scheduled wastes listed in the First Schedule are divided into 5 categories, namely:

i. SW 1 Metal and metal-bearing wastes (10 types of scheduled wastes);
ii. SW 2 Wastes containing principally inorganic constituents which may contain metals and organic materials (7 types of scheduled wastes);
iii. SW 3 Wastes containing principally organic constituents which may contain metals and inorganic materials (27 types of scheduled wastes);
iv. SW 4 Wastes which may contain either inorganic or organic constituents (32 types of scheduled wastes)
v. SW 5 Other wastes (1 type of scheduled waste)


Scheduled wastes can be stored, recovered or treated within the premises of the waste generators. Such activities do not require licensing by the Department of Environment. A waste generator may store scheduled wastes generated by him for 180 days or less after its generation provided that the quantity of scheduled wastes accumulated on site shall not exceed 20 metric tonnes. However, waste generators may apply to the Director General in writing to store more than 20 metric tonnes of scheduled wastes. The containers that are used to store scheduled wastes shall be clearly labeled with the date when the scheduled wastes are first generated as well as the name, address and telephone number of the waste generator.

Land farming, incineration, disposal and off-site facilities for recovery, storage and treatment can only be carried out at prescribed premises licensed by the Department of Environment. However, with the signing of the concession agreement between the Government of Malaysia and Kualiti Alam Sdn. Bhd on 18 December 1995 (15 years concession period), all off-site treatment and disposal (incineration, wastewater treatment, storage and secure landfill) of scheduled wastes is not allowed.

On-site incineration of scheduled wastes is not encouraged. If it is deemed necessary, application for the installation of such incinerator must strictly adhere to the Guidelines On the Installation of On-site Incinerator for the Disposal of Scheduled Wastes in Malaysia" (published by the Department of Environment), including carrying out a detailed environmental impact assessment and display of the EIA report for public comments.

Waste generators may apply for special management of scheduled wastes to have the scheduled wastes generated from their particular facility or process excluded from being treated, disposed of or recovered in premises or facilities other than at the prescribed premises or on-site treatment or recovery facilities, as stipulated under Regulation 7(1), Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005.

3 Incentives for Environmental Management
Please refer to Chapter 8 for information on "Incentives for Environmental Management". Further details on environmental management requirements can be obtained from the Department of Environment or visit www.doe.gov.my
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Last Updated : Friday 15th December 2017