Many do not realise the negative impact of throwing used cooking oil down the sink or into the drain.
Disposing of the used oil indiscriminately pollutes the environment, especially rivers.
To reduce river pollution in the areas surrounding upper Sungai Ampang and Sungai Gombak, the Drainage and Irrigation Department started a “River-Friendly Restaurant” initiative under the River of Life Public Outreach Programme (Rolpop) Phases 3B and 4 in Selangor.
The voluntary programme is aimed at encouraging food operators, restaurant owners and hawkers to recycle their used cooking oil and practise good waste management that will in turn reduce river pollution.
Asia Pacific Environmental Consultants Sdn Bhd (Aspec) director Dr Jamie Chong said our rivers were facing serious threats because of irresponsible waste dumping habits.
“We often forget the importance of rivers and fail to appreciate their role and value towards sustainable development.
“Some people are treating our rivers like rubbish bins. Solid waste, food waste, sewage water and even cooking oil are discarded into the drains and will eventually flow into rivers, endangering clean water supply located at the river basin, ” said Chong.
The outreach programme was implemented by Aspec in collaboration with Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) and Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).
DID appointed Aspec to spearhead the initiatives for Rolpop and collaborate with businesses to tackle river pollution and improve water quality.
Chong said the apathy of food service establishments in handling their used cooking oil had contributed to worsening river pollution.
A recent water quality report indicated that the chemical oxygen demand (COD), from samples of water collected from restaurant drains had exceeded the limit.
The water was polluted by high levels of organic food waste and detergent.
As part of the programme, all participating restaurants and food stalls will place used cooking oil in 25-litre containers provided free which will be collected by MPAJ- and MPS-appointed contractors on a weekly basis.
Additionally, restaurant and food stall operators are required to undergo an assessment to ensure they practise proper waste management, among them installing dedicated fat, oil and grease traps, practising proper waste segregation, ensuring zero waste discharge into the storm water drains and supporting eco-friendly practices as well as eliminating the use of plastic straws.
Aspec said response to the programme has been encouraging.
“Since the pilot stage, which started in August last year, 60 eatery owners have signed up and within four months, we collected 400kg of used cooking oil which will be recycled into biodiesel, ” added Chong.
Apart from promoting recycling the programme has successfully increased awareness of plastic pollution.
Chu Hock Sung, 74, from Tim Mei Dessert House in Ampang, said the programme was headed in the right direction in educating both restaurant operators and consumers on proper waste handling, especially single-use plastics.
“We need to do the right thing to conserve the environment. Small steps like recycling used cooking oil, disposing waste in the right manner and keeping our premises clean will have a huge impact on environmental sustainability.
“Changing attitudes towards waste disposal should start from young, ” said Chu.
Mohd Farhdly Alfie Amir, who runs the Nasi Vanggey Restaurant in Prima Seri Gombak, was glad to be part of this programme.
“Education and awareness about proper waste management is increasingly important to the food and hospitality industry.
“This programme teaches food operators how to effectively dispose used cooking oil and how to turn it into a resource, ” he said.
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