IPOH, Malaysia - The Perak government has issued an order to suspend factories that extract industrial oil and steel by burning old tyres.
"The Environment Department (DOE) had issued numerous compounds and orders, sealed their equipment, and have even hauled one operator to court since 2009 and yet, they continue to operate," state executive councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon told reporters here yesterday.
"As such, I feel it will be good to issue notices to temporarily suspend their operations.
"In the meantime, the state government would like to meet these operators."
Present were Malaysian Association of Tyre Retreaders and Dealers president Tan Heong Thong and state DOE director Abdul Razak Abdul Manap.
Dr Mah said the state government would brief operators on new global standards that were being practised worldwide to help them come up with a feasible business model.
He was responding to concerns raised by the public that such recycling of tyres not only posed a threat to the environment but also to their health.
Dr Mah, who has been tasked by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir to resolve the matter, said 25 such factories were found to be illegally operating in the state.
Tan said the "cooking" of tyres in chambers at high temperatures for five to six hours to extract oil, carbon and steel was a primitive process.
"The process not only pollutes the air and waterways but is also dangerous as it could lead to explosions," he said.
Tan said chemical decomposition of compounds caused by high temperatures - known in the industry as pyrolysis - could be a good industry move if the correct process was adopted.
"It is estimated that in Perak alone, some 8,000 old tyres are thrown out daily while at least one million old tyres are generated annually nationwide," he added.
"Hence, we are in favour of the state government's move to engage these illegal factory operators and to inform them of the new technology that is already being used in the United States, Australia, Spain and Thailand."
Tan said 95 per cent of material produced by pyrolysis through modern technology could be reused with the remaining 5 per cent used as energy to rerun the process.
Abdul Razak said 61 compound fines had been issued since 2009 to errant operators in Perak.
"We have also issued 44 directives, sealed off equipment on 18 occasions, brought one of them to court and also closed down a factory in Kampung Gajah before it was commissioned," he added.