ALL food waste and plastic bottles collected during Thaipusam will be recycled.
Penang Municipal Council Public Health committee alternate chairman Ong Ah Teong said My Khatulistiwa Sdn Bhd, a Kuala Lumpur-based company, will collect the food waste and other recyclable items with the help of about 40 volunteers during the festival.
The company helps corporate companies plan and implement their corporate social responsibility strategies.
Ong said there would be a huge 660 litre bin for the food waste at the Municipal Park car park and for the plastic bottles, there would be a designated area at the same place.
“The food waste will be brought to the Bayan Baru market to be turned into fertiliser.
“This is the first time we are making a concentrated effort to recycle food waste,” he said yesterday.
He said some 700 workers would be deployed during the three days to clean up smashed coconuts and litter.
“Removing the broken coconuts needs to be done fast so that the roads will not be blocked,” he said, adding that last year, 210 tonnes of broken coconuts were collected by the council.
State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said ‘Sampah Masyarakat’, a movement aimed at creating awareness on waste and recycling, and change littering behaviour by organising public clean-ups, would rope in locals to help collect recyclable waste during the festival.
‘Sampah Masyarakat’ was founded by My Khatulistiwa chief executive officer M. Shyam Priah.
Phee said the money collected from the sale of the recyclable items would be donated to charity.
“Instead of volunteering at Batu Caves, the group decided to travel all the way to Penang because they believe that doing it here would be more effective in raising awareness nationwide,” he said.
In line with the state government’s aim for a polystyrene-free Thaipusam celebration, Phee called on devotees coming for the festival not to use polystyrene containers for food items they are donating or sponsoring.
“The state Thaipusam organising committee has informed more than 100 stalls participating in the religious festival not to use polystyrene when serving meals to devotees and they have agreed.
“We hope to get the cooperation of devotees coming from outstation to use environmentally-friendly containers to pack the food they are offering or sponsoring,” he said.
On a separate matter, Ong said the council would speak to the coffeeshop owner (on Gottlieb Road) not to sell alcohol during the festival.
“Legally, we cannot stop them from selling alcohol as they have a valid licence.
“However, we will seek their cooperation and understanding as the Thaipusam organising committee has asked for the council’s assistance to speak to the owner,” he said.