Advocate single-stream recycling to get more public participation

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2020

Fisherman Amin Hassan clearing the tonnes of plastic and other rubbish that get stuck in the mangrove in Perling during low tide. --- Filepic Items, which are recyclable, are then sold off for some extra pocket money. He hopes that people will take care of their environment and not discard all their plastic waste into the waterways, rivers and seas.

I REFER to StarMetro’s report titled “Eyeing savings on landfill costs.”

Bravo to the Selangor government for taking the initiative to look into separating waste at source to reduce landfill costs.

This is a farsighted initiative as it will additionally benefit the environment, reduce pollution and increase the coffers of the state by selling the recyclables.

Since the state government is on the lookout for initiatives, I would like to offer a few which hopefully will be of assistance.

Single stream recycling where plastic, metal, glass and paper are all put in one bin, collected by trucks and sent to a facility where the recyclables are sorted out and then sold.

This can be done by providing a bin to all households or business premises where only recyclables will be placed and collected once a week.

All the other rubbish that is compostable or cannot be recycled, such as broken glass, oil-stained paper, plastic wrapper and polystyrene containers are to be placed in a second bin and collected on different days for dumping in sanitary landfills or to be incinerated.

The single stream recycling reduces the sorting effort by residents and business owners and will likely get more participation.

Through this method, new materials may easily be added to the list of recyclables accepted.

It also reduces more plastic waste and costs compared to the practice of using different coloured bags for waste separation that seemed to have garnered little interest and involvement.

Glass recycling in Selangor has been almost non-existent for many years.

It is done now by only a few non-governmental organisations that collect them at certain time and days and sent down to a glass manufacturer in Johor.

Glass alone is estimated to be 5% of the overall rubbish in the United States. Malaysia would not be far behind as our consumer patterns are nearly similar.

Glass is a lot of empty volume and lasts forever. At landfills, it takes up a lot of space and will be there for a long time.

The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle during manufacturing can light up a 100watt bulb for four hours or power a laptop for 30 minutes.

Glass can also be recycled many times over, so the energy saving and not having to use raw materials to manufacture helps the environment and reduces pollution.

Selangor government should set up glass bottle collection centres in supermarkets, wet markets, shopping centres, department stores, community centres and popular food courts.

The glass deposited can then be collected and transported to be sold to a glass manufacturer, which will make it cost effective.

The Roadmap to Zero Single-Use Plastic is a guideline and is currently not truly enforced.

Selangor, being the premier and more advanced state, should lead by also banning all single-use plastic, including cups, containers and cutlery before 2022 or earlier.

Plastic waste accounts for 13.2% of all wastes in Malaysia, so taking most plastics out from the rubbish will make the target of 10% to 20% savings on landfill fees all that much easier to meet.

Throw in setting up composting stations at wet markets and food courts to compost vegetables and food waste together with centres for fabric recycling, the targeted 20% savings can be easily surpassed.

The state government has a good far-sighted initiative here but it needs to be firmed up and implemented fast.

Every day, thousands of tonnes of rubbish, of which most can be recycled and be of value, are buried in the ground and lost forever.

The degradation of our environment and pollution are mounting, affecting the health of the land and its people.

Selangor government must act with all speed and greater zeal.

Koo Wee Hon,


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