Generating more waste than ever

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should embrace the segregation of waste at home given that each of them generated an average of 1.17kg each day last year.

According to the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp), this figure is nearly double that of 2005, when the per capita generation was around 0.8kg per person per day.

SWCorp deputy chief executive officer (technical) Dr Mohd Pauze Mohamad Taha revealed these figures at a forum on waste management at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia here yesterday.

He said in 2018, Malaysians generated a whopping 38, 142 tonnes of waste per day, an increase from 19, 000 tonnes of waste a day in 2005.

“If you compare 2005 and 2018, the amount of waste generated has increased tremendously, ” he said, attributing it to a population boom and the inclusion of commercial waste in the 2018 survey.

According to Dr Mohd Pauze, 44.5% of the waste collected was food waste, followed by plastic waste (13.2%) and diapers (12.1%).

However, he said the composition of waste was changing, with the latest statistics showing plastic making up 20% of waste.

Dr Mohd Pauze said this data for municipal solid waste did not include construction and manufacturing waste.

“More than half of the waste generated are sent to sanitary landfills, ” Dr Mohd Pauze said, adding that approximately 40% of waste was recyclable.

“Malaysians have a lackadaisical attitude when it comes to recycling and waste management.”

He said the recycling rate was low, at a mere 28%, but SWCorp hoped to increase it to 30% by 2020.

He said that while the country prepares to introduce a circular economy framework by 2021, Malaysians could greatly reduce the rubbish they generate by segregating their waste.

“Practise the 3Rs, ” he said, referring to reduce, reuse, recycle.

“Whatever that can be recycled, separate it. Plastic bottles, drink cartons, paper and so on, separate it and send it to the recycling centre or vendor, you can even sell it, ” he said.

“Food waste can be separated and composted, ” he said, adding that recycling and composting could reduce waste generation by 60% to 70% if there was mass adoption.

On illegal dumping, Dr Mohd Pauze said the government spent approximately RM200, 000 a month in Kuala Lumpur alone to clear illegal dumping sites.

“Most of the illegal dumping involves construction and manufacturing waste, ” he said.

“The manufacturer may engage a waste management contractor, but the contractor may dump the waste illegally to avoid paying tipping fees at the landfills.”

Yesterday, The Star reported that the Kedah state authorities had sealed an illegal dump site close to Sungai Muda, just 15km upstream from Penang’s largest raw water intake point.

A villager had charged contractors RM30 per truck to dump their waste on his 1.8ha land in Kampung Kemumbung.

The land was filled with various kinds of waste from commercial and industrial premises, ranging from piles of used clothing to vehicle auto parts, barrels of scheduled waste and chemicals, and an assortment of plastic waste ranging from sheets to pellets.

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