IPOH: Fully residential religious schools in Perak have been directed not to allow students to use drinks and food in plastic bottles and packaging.

The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah said it is an effort initiated by the Council of Religion and Malay Customs (MAIPK), and the Perak Islamic Religious Department (JAIPK) to minimise the usage of single-use plastics.

“The world faces a significant threat from the negative environmental impact of uncontrolled single-use plastic.

“Most plastic materials do not completely degrade; instead, they break down into smaller particles known as microplastics, which are now found in human internal organs. The long-term effects of microplastics on human health and the environment require serious attention,” he said.

His Royal Highness said this when opening the second meeting of the 15th Perak State Legislative Assembly here today.

Sultan Nazrin said the initiative by MAIPK and JAIPK to instil a culture of reducing single-use plastic usage should serve as an example for all departments and agencies in Perak.

“The Education Department, Youth Department, mosques, suraus, places of worship, NGOs, are duty-bound to educate and instil awareness among the younger generation to adopt healthier lifestyles by intensifying the ‘No Single-use Plastic’ campaign among our people,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Sultan said that the valuable Non-Radioactive Rare Earth Elements (NR-REE) has drawn the interest of individuals engaging in irresponsible behaviour exploiting the situation through trespassing and unauthorised mineral extraction activities.

“These encroachments and illicit operations lead to financial losses for the state, along with unregulated mining practices that disregard established protocols, posing potential harm to the environment and public health.

“Firm and immediate action is needed from enforcement agencies, particularly the Department of Forestry. Instances involving collusion between enforcement personnel and illegal miners must be promptly investigated and addressed with firmness and zero tolerance,” he said.

Sultan Nazrin said the discovery of NR-REE presents a promising new mineral resource, with the potential to significantly boost the state’s revenue and the Department of Mineral and Geoscience estimates that there are 1.69 million metric tons of NR-REE deposits in Perak, valued at around RM40 billion.

His Royal Highness said a groundbreaking project covering an area of 88 hectares has yielded production of nearly 6,200 metric tonnes of REE carbonate.

“With a 12 per cent royalty applied to sales prices, our government has generated royalty earnings totalling RM25.2 million for the year 2023. Looking ahead to 2024, our government aims to increase royalty revenue from this new mineral source to reach RM50 million,” he said.

The Sultan said the potential of NR-REE extends beyond just extracting and exporting raw resources.

“Our government is pioneering the development of Central Processing Plants (CPPs) in the midstream industrial sector, along with constructing high-tech factories in the downstream industrial sector. These initiatives aim to elevate the market value of related mineral materials and several strategic locations have been identified for setting up CPPs.

“In our efforts to advance the midstream and downstream industries, our government have been collaborating closely with federal government agencies and actively seeking partnerships with companies that possess specialised expertise and technology towards maximizing the potential of NR-REE and driving sustainable growth in this sector,” he said.-Bernama

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