SELAYANG Municipal Council (MPS) president Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain has suggested a policy to ban non-governmental organisations (NGO) from using polystyrene and plastic containers for Thaipusam next year to reduce the amount of garbage.
He said the garbage collected for the Thaipusam festival was about 400 tonnes, compared to 320 tonnes last year.
MPS forked out about RM150,000 to clear the rubbish and clean the relevant areas after Thaipusam.
He said the garbage collected during the two weeks of Thaipusam equalled the garbage collected for a day by MPS throughout Selayang, including Rawang, Kepong, Sungai Buloh, Kuang, Kundang, Batu Arang and Templer’s Park.
“Most of the garbage produced by the NGOs are from the distribution of free food and drinks in polystyrene or plastic plates, cups and bowls to devotees, tourists and locals during the festival.
“People just throw these items away and they are not recyclable, which adds to more waste in landfills,’’ he said.
Mohd Azizi added that with the state banning polystyrene and plastic items, it would help reduce the amount of garbage and NGOs must purchase recyclable plates, bowls and cups instead.
“I understand that using recyclable materials is expensive but with the state coming in to help, it is possible.
“We encourage the NGOs to use biodegradable materials such as brown paper, paper cups and paper bags.
“We gave permits to 25 NGOs to carry out their activities of giving free food and drinks during this festival but only a few took the initiative to reduce the waste and try to make it a green Thaipusam,’’ he pointed out.
This year, the state had a green Thaipusam campaign and the state government provided 50,000 recyclable plates and bowls made out of corn husk to Malaysian Hindu Sangam, one of the NGOs distributing free food at Batu Caves during Thaipusam.
Devotees, tourists and the public were also encouraged to bring their own reusable plates and tumblers to collect their free food and drinks to reduce the amount of garbage.
Another NGO, Sri Agathiar Sanmarka Gurukulam Malaysia, distributed free vegetarian meals in banana leaves to devotees.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi foundation had volunteers at its booth under the MRR2 bridge collecting plastic bottles, cups and other recyclable materials during the festival.
Mohd Azizi said the state was successful with implementing the “no plastic bag” move on Saturdays.
“If the state implements this policy also for plastic and polystyrene, it can drastically reduce waste for all the local councils,’’ he said.