Tailoring green measures

Community effort: The Kenari Flats residents’ committee started a chilli fertigation project in Bandar Baru Kangkar Pulai in April after seeing promising results in their farming project. - Photo: YEE XIANG YUN/The Star

GO GREEN. Rethink, reuse, recycle. Think before you throw.

These are some of the common recycling phrases that we have come across as society faces a growing rubbish problem and tries to find solutions to reduce waste.

Going green and opting to recycle are not just habits designed for the wealthy and should be encouraged among the middle- and low-income groups, Iskandar Puteri mayor Datuk Mohd Haffiz Ahmad said.

To promote recycling, Iskandar Puteri City Council (MBIP) has been actively organising programmes to appeal to these groups.

Mohd Haffiz said the city council’s Low-Carbon Action Plan 2015-2025 could only be successful if the M40 and B40 groups were involved as well.

“We have been churning out activities and programmes involving government agencies, the private sector and community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, getting the community excited about making environmental-friendly lifestyle changes or opting for green initiatives is not an easy feat.

“We held several discussions with the community to understand their interests before tweaking our programmes to suit their preferences to achieve the desired outcome, ” he told StarMetro.

Mohd Haffiz highlighted an example where the city council had intended to start a recycling programme with residents at the Kenari Flats in Bandar Baru Kangkar Pulai in 2019.

By engaging with residents, MBIP learned that they were keen on farming.

“We adjusted and planned accordingly before kick-starting a small community farming project at the flats’ Block A with the help of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). UTM provided the necessary resources and expertise.

“The residents managed to convert an area filled with overgrowth into a sustainable and beautiful garden.

“They planted a variety of flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs for their consumption as well as to cater to the surrounding community.

“The community farming project was a success when the residents committee won second place in the Town and Country Planning Department (PLANMalaysia) Green Neighbourhood Award in the high-rise category last year, ” said Mohd Haffiz.

He added that the lockdown had affected the city council’s plans to expand similar projects to other communities in its jurisdiction because such farming projects required hands-on demonstrations and interaction.

The mayor said MBIP’s Research and Sustainability Unit under its Planning Development Department, led by town and country planning officer Safwan Shaari, had been holding social engagements with residents via webinars as well as sharing and planning sessions online to gear up for post-lockdown activities.

Mohd Haffiz says to promote recycling, MBIP has actively organised programmes to appeal to the B40 and M40 groups.Mohd Haffiz says to promote recycling, MBIP has actively organised programmes to appeal to the B40 and M40 groups.

Through these online sessions, held since last year, MBIP was able to hit at least 341, 710 engagements on social media, he said.

Mohd Haffiz added that the city council had come up with creative ways during the pandemic to ensure its green efforts were not delayed.

One of the programmes organised is the Iskandar Puteri Low Carbon Calendar competition which encourages the public to recycle and reduce expenditure on their utility bills for a chance to win up to RM20, 000 in cash prizes.

To make the project a success, MBIP distributed a calendar with infographics to guide residents on low-carbon practices such as recycling as well as saving water and electricity.

The calendar was distributed at residential areas, schools, government offices and industrial areas to encourage residents to participate, record their savings, collect points and win prizes.

The programmes, initiated last year, saw the public collectively reducing their electricity consumption by RM17, 665 and water bills by RM12, 365 in the first six months of its inception.

Residents at Kenari Flats in Bandar Baru Kangkar Pulai cleaned up an area with overgrowth to start their community farming project in 2019.Residents at Kenari Flats in Bandar Baru Kangkar Pulai cleaned up an area with overgrowth to start their community farming project in 2019.

The initiative was made possible with the cooperation of UTM, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda), SWM Environment Sdn Bhd as well as Johor Education Department.

“This year, we also introduced a drive-through recycling drive at the Sutera Mall carpark for the public to drop off their unwanted items for recycling to minimise interaction in view of the ongoing pandemic.

“The effort attracted 246 cars throughout the two-day event, with some motorists travelling all the way from Kota Tinggi to drop off items such as magazines, books, fabrics, electrical products and used cooking oil.

“With the state Education Department on board, we were able to give unwanted books a second life by donating them to school libraries, ” said Mohd Haffiz, adding that the programme recorded 2, 875kg in collected items, 3, 987kg of fabric and 535 litres of used cooking oil.

MBIP is planning for its next drive-through recycling programme, once the lockdown is lifted, in Medini and Mutiara Rini.

According to Mohd Haffiz, also in the works is a grant — which focuses on green or low carbon projects — that is open to the Iskandar Puteri community for application.

“Overall, the response to our programmes is quite good despite the pandemic.

“This shows that the public is willing and able to make small changes to their lifestyle to contribute to the environment.

He said knowing this was important in achieving a low-carbon society, through MBIP’s four-pronged approach which involves the government (local authority), academia (UTM), industries and community.

“We aim to continue our efforts to educate, conduct research, initiate behavioural change and eventually achieve a zero-waste lifestyle in our jurisdiction, ” he said.

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