Hazards of plastic waste made clear

Kobe Liu En Shuo (left), eight, and Tian Kie Hin, seven, are clearly fascinated by the installations set up by Tzu Chi Foundation Malaysia volunteers at the Taman Desa Community Centre. — S.S. KANESAN/The Star

LARGER-than-life structures, made entirely of discarded plastic, are drawing visitors to the Taman Desa Community Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The structures — two of which depict a fisherman and a water pipe — highlight the impact of single-use plastics on the environment, especially on marine life, and educate the public about the hazards of plastic waste.

Created by volunteers from Tzu Chi Foundation Malaysia, they are also part of a dengue awareness programme by Taman Desa Residents Association (TDRA).

Tzu Chi Foundation Malaysia recycling coordinator Francis Tan said plastic waste had increased during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic as more people resorted to using takeaway food packaging.

“We want the public not to forget that this issue (plastic waste) is ongoing and we all need to play our part,” he said.

The volunteers took about a day to collect the necessary materials and set up the structures.

Tan said the installations would later be moved to a park in nearby Taman Danau Desa, next to the foundation’s recycling centre.

Meanwhile, some 100 Taman Desa residents turned out to help clean up their neighbourhood after a recent spike in dengue and chikungunya cases in the area.

TDRA chairman Wong Chan Choy said there had been 20 cases in the past two weeks, prompting them to organise a dengue “search and destroy” programme.

“We worked with the Lembah Pantai Health Office to identify the areas and mobilised volunteers to look for potential dengue breeding sites.

“Any recyclable material that they find will also be collected and sent to the recycling centre,” he said.

Officers from the health office and police were on hand to provide technical assistance where needed.

Some 20 Alam Flora workers were also present to help with the clean-up.

Also making a surprise visit was Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) Federal Territories director Ummi Kalthum Shuib, who commended TDRA for organising the clean-up.

“We need communities to take the lead in initiating similar programmes in their areas.

“If needed, they can always get in touch with us and we can provide them with relevant information,” she said.

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