PERAK folk want the state government to encourage the practice of recycling and make it a habit among the people.
They want the state to give the much needed push to the people who are already aware of the importance of recycling.
Many of those interviewed by StarMetro have called for the state government to impose rulings or regulations, and have more programmes to encourage people to recycle.
Public relations officer Aznira Ahmad, 41, said residents in her housing area were recycling together and the money collected from selling plastic recyclables were put in a fund.
“We just started recycling together last week. Before this, I was doing it on my own.
“Other housing areas should also start their own recycling project; the state needs to organise more campaigns for the public to join,” she said.
She added that it was time for the government to take stronger action against those who did not recycle.
“The state previously said the public needed to segregate their rubbish, but there were no follow-up on this.
“Perhaps they can start charging those, including restaurant owners who do not recycle or categorise their rubbish accordingly,” she said.
“More awareness programmes must be held at schools as it may be hard to ask the older generation to recycle,” she added.
It was reported recently that some 754,000 tonnes of plastic waste from over 19 countries were dumped in Malaysia last year.
Greenpeace Malaysia then called Malaysia the “world’s rubbish bin”, while BBC also reported that Jenjarom, a town in Selangor, was smothered in 17,000 tonnes of waste.
A study in 2010 revealed that Malaysia produced some 0.94 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste, whereby between 0.14 and 0.37 million tonnes might have been washed into the oceans.
Leong Chai Yuen, 46, who makes handicraft, has been recycling plastic and other materials, together with her family, since four years ago.
“The increasing number of recycling centres and bins available in Ipoh have made our efforts easier.
“But I have to say it is quite hard to impose a ‘sustainable shopping lifestyle’ in Ipoh, and I bet it is even harder for people in smaller towns.
“Although I applaud the government’s initiative to ban single-use plastic bags and plastic straws, I believe more can be done to encourage proper waste management and sustainable consumption through education and implementation of laws and regulations nationwide,” she said.
Leong believed that education and the availability of recycling centres and bins, would encourage Perakians to move towards a sustainable society.
“I hope the government will be more serious in implementing recycling and beef up enforcement to make the public recycle more,” she added.
So Kin Hoe, a volunteer from Kechara Ipoh Study Group, said the government should make recycling easier for the public by providing better recycling facilities.
“I have to drive at least 1km to the nearest recycling centre.
“The government should see how Japan has made recycling easy. Recycle bins are placed in public areas, making it accessible for everyone,” he added.
So said NGOs were trying their best to encourage the public to recycle, however, it would be more helpful if the government can create more awareness on social media to explain the dangers of plastic to everyone.
Every month, Kechara Ipoh Study Group will organise a recycling drive as part of its efforts to make recycling easier for the public.
“During the first session we had, many did not categorise their rubbish accordingly. We had plastics, glass and papers mixed in one bag, and volunteers had to separate them one by one.
“But things have changed after a few sessions and we received positive feedback from those who came.
“Aside from recycling, the public must also try to use less plastic daily,” he added.
Ipoh City Watch (ICW) chairman Prof Dr Richard Ng said many NGOs, including ICW, had called the plastic ban to be enforced again, but the state wanted to study the impact, especially to plastic manufacturers.
“The previous government made a bold step when it announced the first phase of state-wide ban on plastic bags and polystyrene containers in June 2016, but a year later, the state called it off saying it should be rescheduled after further studies were carried out.
“In Perak, over 200,000 tonnes of rubbish is generated by households of which 30% or about 65,000 consist of plastics.
“There are many options open to the authorities, but there needs to be a stronger political will to implement it.
“The present government must not drag its feet to ban single-use plastic and implement other policies to save the environment.
“Traders should be forced to use biodegradable or recycle plastic containers, while plastic straw and disposal plastic plates, forks and spoons must be banned,” he said.
Ng also suggested that local councils carry out enforcement, and traders who ignore the ruling to have their business licence revoked.
“The state can also implement a charge on consumers who insist on using plastic bags, whereby the money could be used to fund NGOs to educate the public on recycling and create environmental awareness,” he added.