Massive waste collected along beach and riverbank

Volunteers from youth and community groups taking part in the beach cleanup with local city council in Lutong coast north of Miri city.

Volunteers from youth and community groups taking part in the beach cleanup with local city council in Lutong coast north of Miri city.

MIRI: All it took was just one morning-session of cleaning along 2km of the beachfront and riverbank near Lutong bazaar here, and a huge bulk of 1,541kg of waste-products was collected.

The clean-up operations over the weekend was jointly carried out by the Miri City Council, government departments, youths and community bodies.

It was organised by the city council and presided by deputy mayor Julaihi Mohamad, who led the council staff in the clean-up.

The volunteers collected big bulk of wastes that included plastic bags, plastic bottles, drink cans, glass bottles, boxes, wood wastes and other household rubbish dumped indiscriminately.

A total of 1,541kg of waste was collected and had to be transported by council trucks to the designated dumpsite.

“We find such bulk of rubbish during every beach and riverbank cleaning exercise. The last session also saw huge amounts of waste and now it is the same situation. There is no end to such indiscriminate dumping,” said Julaihi.

Environmentalists have said that it is time to use the full force of the law especially with regards to plastic bags.

They have called for stricter enforcement and enactment of specific regulation to ban the use of plastic bags in shopping complexes and supermarkets.

Malaysian Nature Society Miri adviser Dr Loh Yunn Hwa recently said it was time to make it compulsory for supermarkets and shopping centres to stop the use of plastic bags for customers.

“It is high time for a law to be enacted to ban the use of plastic bags for shopping. Supermarkets and shopping complexes must be compelled to do so or else there will be bigger mountains of plastic wastes in cities like Miri, which is already polluted with bulk of wastes that includes plastic.

“The Miri City Council has tried using gentle persuasion to urge the people to say no to plastic but the campaign failed. It is time to use the law since advice and persuasion has not brought about positive results,” she said.

Mayor Adam Yii recently acknowledged that the city council’s “Say No To Plastic” campaign had failed to garner the support of the majority of business entities and the public at large in Miri.

Even though the city council have noble intentions to inititate the campaign, the support from the people in Miri was lacking, he said.

“The campaign had good objectives. The intentions was noble. We the council felt the need to reduce the use of plastic materials so we wanted the supermarkets and shops to stop using plastic bags. However, not all supported the move. There were some supermarkets which even sold customers plastic bags at 20sen each.

“The public too also wanted the convenience of plastic bags to carry their goods. The campaign failed. Plastic bags are still being used and then dumped all over the place,” Yii said.

Dr Loh said the habit of blatant dumping was hard to overcome.

“Plastic bags and bottles are so widely used that it has become a convenience taken for granted. Instead of reusing them, people dump them and much of the waste end up in the rivers and oceans,” she said.

Miri Red Cresent recycling unit adviser Judy Wan Morshidi agreed with Dr Loh that it was time to use stricter methods to reduce plastic pollution in Miri.

She hopes that education campaigns at school level will help to inculcate a more caring attitude towards the environment in the near future.

“I was involved in the “Say No To Plastic” campaign when I was councillor at the Miri City Council.

“It was frustrating to note that the campaign failed to get support from enough people.

“We need to use the full force of the law,” she said.

Yii said the State Ministry of Local Government will have the final say on whether to impose a law banning the use of plastic bags in supermarkets and shopping centres.

The city council by itself cannot make such a major policy decision, he added.

Sarawak , Miri beach clean up