By Soon Li Wei
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Malaysians have been generating an average of 1.17 kilogrammes or 36,699 tonnes in household waste daily.
According to the 2022 data from the Solid Waste Management and Public Health Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp), the majority of the food waste ended up in landfills, while some could potentially be recycled.
While this means losses in terms of recyclable resources in an industry that is considered as high value, it would also worsen the garbage generation situation, given that the landfills are expected to last for another 25 years, said SWCorp.
“It’s true, we have many landfills, but with the growing population, the total waste generated will also rise, hence the landfill’s lifespan can also be shortened.
“As such, it is crucial that we reduce the solid waste that goes into the trash bin and make recycling our regular practice,” SWCorp Federal Territory Director Ummi Kalthum Shuib told Bernama.
SWCorp is responsible for regulating solid waste management and public cleansing in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Pahang, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Kedah and Perlis.
40 PCT TARGET BY 2025
Elaborating, Ummi Kalthum said recycling practices can reduce at least five per cent of the total garbage disposed at landfills besides saving costs of disposal and at dumpsites.
“As of 2022, the nation’s recycling rate was only 33.17 per cent,” she said, adding that under the 12th Malaysia Plan, Malaysia has targeted the figure to rise to 40 per cent by 2025.
Despite the increase in recycling rate from 31.52 per cent in 2021, based on figures from the National Solid Waste Management Department (NSWD, it is still unsatisfactory when compared to most developed nations which have achieved at least 60 per cent.
To increase the recycling rate, Ummi Kalthum said participation from every member of the community is vital, especially at the domestic level so that garbage segregation practice becomes a daily routine.
As such, SWCorp through the Komuniti Sifar Sisa (KOSIS) initiative has gone to the ground (‘turun padang’) by educating the community in solid waste segregation and cultivate the practice of valuing waste as a resource and reduce despatching solid waste to dumpsites.
“The programme helps PPR (People’s Housing Projects) in composting food out of food waste, segregating solid waste through recycled bins and sending recycled items to recycle centres through redemption of reward points and ‘Trash to Cash’, which is the conversion of recycled items into cash rewards.
"It does not only train residents to manage their solid waste in a systematic manner, but also helps them generate income through the collection of recycled resources, in addition to cultivating the culture of environmental sustainability practices,” she added.
'TRASH TO CASH'
Ummi Kalthum said to encourage recycling practices among PPR residents, local authorities such as Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) also took the initiative to hold campaigns by exchanging the garbage to discounts on house rent through its 1C1R (1 Community 1 Recycling) programme.
This approach can reduce the burden of PPR residents as under this barter system, residents can collect redemption points that can later be exchanged with rental payments and other necessities,” she added.
In addition, she said, SWCorp has also set up a special unit to monitor the Joint Management Body (JMB) last year to organise joint programmes involving strata homes such as apartments and condominiums.
“To date, the special unit has undertaken monitoring activities on 175 out of 1,743 JMB throughout Kuala Lumpur to ensure they comply with Act 672, which makes it compulsory for every household and business premise owner to segregate waste at the source based on categories, in addition to providing special bins for solid waste segregation.
“However, only 36 JMB has complied with the act, that is, 35 in KL and one in Putrajaya,” she said.
Ummi Kalthum said, among the excuses cited by the JMB for non-compliance include financial constraints, space shortage and lacking support from residents.
A compound of up to RM1,000 is imposed on those who refuse to separate their waste under Act 672.
GARBAGE SEGREGATION AT HOME
Ummi Kalthum said the recycling practice and segregating the trash should start from home by having separate bins based on categories.
“The recycling practices and separation of solid waste is actually not difficult. In fact, it can generate side income if the solid waste that has been separated based on categories is sent to recycling centres and converted to cash.
“Besides that, JMB can also act by investing on dustbins of various colours to encourage residents to separate their garbage at every garbage room. They can then collect and sell to the third party or recycling centres.
“Indirectly, they would have received returns on their investment on garbage bins for garbage separation. As such, the issue of lack of budget no longer arises in carrying out recycling based on the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) concept.
Ummi Kalthum also said, parents should also encourage their children to separate the trash at home and later collect the rubbish that can be recycled to school for handicraft-making or to be sold to third parties.
"If kids can practise recycling at home, proceeds from their recycled products can be given to them as incentives.
“Teachers can also organise recycling competitions in school by encouraging students to utilise recycled materials to produce something useful, and later sell to the third party to generate income, hence, contributing to the school fund,” she added.
DRIVE-THRU RECYCLED CENTRES
Ummi Kalthum said SWCorp has also set up two drive-thru recycling centres (DTRC) at Jalan Tiong Nam and Jalan Bunus 6 since March 1 to make it easier for residents in the area to send their discarded items for recycling.
Besides that, her company will collaborate with supermarkets in the city to create recycle centres in an open space next to the shopping premises.
“Members of the public can start recycling by segregating plastic, paper, aluminium cans and food waste,” she said, adding that there are over 150 recycle centres nationwide. Some recycle centres are owned by local councils.
Meanwhile, Global Environment Centre (GEC) river care programme coordinator Dr K. Kalithasan opined that enforcing laws on individuals or premises that do not separate their trashpile based on categories alone would render ineffective if recycling awareness is not inculcated at a young age.
“Most people do not separate the solid waste and practise recycling at home as they have this mentality that such work is the responsibility of the local authorities (PBT).
“They are of the view that they pay their assessment tax to the PBT, hence, it is their (PBT) responsibility to segregate it (trash); they can throw garbage everywhere, but it’s the city hall’s duty to clean it up.
Hence, he said, this mindset must be changed and parents should play their role by encouraging their children to practise recycling while they were young.
“Similarly, if parents do not set a good example, say like throwing plastic materials into the river, their children will follow in their behaviour. This will continue until the next generation, causing fish and other aquatic organisms to die,” he added.
He said the centre held regular talks and seminars on care of rivers and gave public exposure on the dangers of throwing plastic waste into rivers and drains.
“We instilled awareness among the public that every small step taken (in nature conservation), will have a huge impact on the environment.
“As such, we encourage them to start with an easy step by throwing their thrash at places that are provided for before separating them based on categories,” he added.
Translated by Salbiah Said
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