Towards zero food waste in Rawang

A young boy (centre) appears fascinated as he watches black soldier fly larvae known as ‘phoenix worms’ devour chicken carcass placed in a tray during the launch of the Zero Waste project at the Bandar Country Homes wetmarket.

IN AN effort to reduce food waste thrown at dumpsites in Selangor, Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) together with local community leaders and Universiti Malaya have embarked on a pilot project to encourage traders to separate food waste.

The Zero Waste project, which is part of the Clean and Green campaign in Bandar Country Homes Rawang, was launched by Rawang assemblyman Gan Pei Nei, who presented 50 garbage bins to food stall operators in Bandar Country Homes wet market as well as restaurant operators.

The project was initiated by MPS councillor Gunarajah R. George and supervised by Zero Waste project manager Keng Zi Xiang, who is from Universiti Malaya, and Persatuan Alam Sekitar Akar Harapan pro-tem chairman Tet Wong.

Under the project, traders have to place food waste in the garbage bins provided by MPS and the waste would be broken down naturally by the larvae of black soldier flies.

During the launch, attendees were shown what the larvae – called “phoenix worms” – looked like and that they were different from the ordinary house fly.

Tet Wong said his team would collect the food waste either daily or every two days from the market or restaurants, and place it at an open area at the former illegal dumping ground near Bandar Country Homes.

“We leave it there in the open. Surprisingly, it will not smell as the maggots will do their job.

“These maggots can devour any carcass within 24 hours. The maggots can then be collected and fed to fish and chicken or to supplement animal feed.

“The food waste can also be turned into compost and fertiliser to be used for plants,” he said.

Keng, who is monitoring the project, said the country produced 33,000 tonnes of waste daily and 90% of this went to the landfill.

“About half of this are food waste that can be turned into fertiliser and animal feed.

“In numerous other countries, food waste is banned from being dumped into the landfills as it can cause environmental damage especially if it pollutes rivers,” he said.

MPS Waste Management and Health Department director Hairudin Daud hoped that once the pilot project was successful, it could be introduced throughout the entire Selayang constituency.

Gunarajah said this new initiative took a lot of manpower and coordination, and thankfully residents and charity organisations were committed in looking at ways to preserve nature and not damage the environment.

“As a resident in Bandar Country Homes, I am doing my part and encouraging people to save the environment and recycle in any way they can.

“I hope this project can also be done in households throughout the municipality,” he said.

Gan said about 40% of the MPS budget was used for garbage disposal in the constituency where every RM1 that MPS collects, 40sen was for waste disposal.

“This is a very high percentage and something like this project should be done to ensure our landfills in Bukit Tagar will not be filled up too soon.

“And the way to start this is by separating our rubbish,” she said.

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