KUALA LUMPUR: Limiting devotees to three joss sticks, introducing shorter and smokeless candles and stopping the burning of joss paper are among the moves which have made Thean Hou Temples custodian the first non-governmental organisation in the country to be awarded ISO certification.
Apart from those steps, the Selangor and Federal Territory Hainan Association, which runs the temple, also spent RM200,000 on a biotechnology-based waste-water system which traps kitchen waste and oil before being released into the environment.
A solid-waste recycling programme was also introduced whereby separate bins for glass, paper, plastic and other types of rubbish were placed at various locations within the temple premises.
All these actions paid off when the association was awarded the ISO 14001:2004 certification for environmental management yesterday.
The simple award ceremony was held at the temple and witnessed by MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.
Association president Chiang Jwee Min said the first steps towards getting the ISO certification began in 2003 when a steering committee was formed.
Our association began to actively plan and implement an environment management system based on the concept of caring for the environment and the sharing of its resources, he said during the ceremony.
He said the aim was to make environmental protection part of all daily activities at the temple.
It was not an easy task, especially when the burning of joss sticks and joss paper was required, said the associations environment and quality steering committee chairman Yuen Chang How.
We had to explain to the devotees that there was no need to burn a huge number of joss sticks to show piety, he said.
Yuen said the association also had to come up with an emergency response plan.
This is to ensure that any evacuation, if ever this is required, would be carried out in a proper and orderly manner, he said.
Certification agency SGS (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd division manager Amargit Singh said the ISO certification was commendable because even though there was no monetary benefit, it showed the association had practised what it preached.
He said it also demonstrated that besides benefiting the manufacturing sector, ISO certification could also help introduce environmentally friendly concepts to the members of non-profit organisations.
The members can then bring such environmental-friendly practices back to their homes and families, he said.
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