Waste not, want not

  • Community
  • Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015

MOST people know Penang is a food heaven. But few realise that Penangites throw away a whole lot of food at the same time — 181.5 tonnes or 181,500kg daily to be exact.

That amount is 33% of the total 550 tonnes of domestic waste that ends up in landfills in the state every day.

According to statistics obtained from the Penang Municipal Council, islanders discard 200,750 tonnes of domestic waste per year including 66,250 tonnes in food waste.

That’s shocking! The huge amount of discarded food could have actually fed millions of people in poverty-stricken countries.

Parents have an important role to play in this matter because they are in a position to instil the do-not-waste-food value in their children from young.

I remember my mother reminding us at the table not to waste the food on our plates. Sadly, I’ve never taken her advice seriously while growing up.

Now I see food wastage as a ‘crime’.

Recently, I read a report stating that the root cause of climate change could be food waste because of the toll it takes on the environment due to the increasing demand for water, energy and land.

Food not consumed results in wasteful use of fertilisers and pesticides, more fuel for transportation, and more rotting food creating more methane — one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change.

The huge amount of food carted to landfills adds to global warming. Also, food wastage costs the authorities hundreds of millions of ringgit each year in proper collection and disposal.

Often, food is wasted at buffet parties and social functions when the meal is free.

It’s quite common to see uneaten food left behind at open houses during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali.

We should just take what we can eat. No need to be greedy because leftover food will end up as garbage.

Not too long ago, an assemblyman advised Chinese restaurants to serve smaller portions at banquets in order to reduce food wastage. I think that’s a good idea.

Seriously, the government should raise more awareness about food wastage. All of us must learn to be more thrifty.

Next time you want to throw away food, even if it’s free, spare a thought for the hungry people all over the world.

Let’s not take food for granted because there’s a price to pay for waste.

> The writer can be reached at tlogeis@thestar.com.my.

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