Plastic food container waste on the rise in Penang amid MCO

GEORGE TOWN: The amount of plastic waste – food wrappers and containers – in household rubbish has been rising, a sign that people are not bothering to segregate waste for recycling at home.

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) Urban Services Department deputy director Xavier Sebastian it was understandable because delivered food is almost always sent in plastic containers.

“The thing is that if the containers are washed and dried before being stored away, they are perfectly recyclable.

“We hope Penangites will continue to spare a thought for the environment and continue to segregate waste at their homes, ” he said.

Penang’s recycling rate is double the national average because since mid-2017, the two city councils – on the island and mainland – began enforcing waste segregation at source.

If occupiers of landed homes are found to be mixing plastics, paper or metals with their general trash, they can be slapped with a fine of RM250.

For high-rise residences, the management committees or joint management bodies can be fined if they do not have proper recycling corners for residents.

“But since the movement control order came back into force and more people order food deliveries, we have been finding more food containers in household rubbish.

“It only takes a few seconds to wash off the oils and bits of food on plastic containers. We hope Penangites will keep doing so, ” he said.

State environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said although many private recycling centres are closed during the current MCO, the garbage trucks of both the city councils will continue to collect segregated recyclable waste.

“If you leave segregated recyclables next to your rubbish bin, garbage truck operators will pick them up separately.

“Penangites have had a good reputation for recycling, and we hope they will continue to do so, pandemic or not, ” he added.

Beside the rise in household plastic waste, the improper disposal of face masks continue to be a problem.

Xavier said MBPP’s road sweepers continue to find dozens of discarded masks on the streets daily.

“People throw away their masks everywhere. Hopefully, more people will opt for reusable masks, ” he said.

On the mainland, Seberang Prai City Council mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud said domestic waste increased by 11.55% in the first week of MCO.

“There is less floating rubbish in the drains but the amount of litter on the roads remain the same throughout Seberang Prai.

“And there are plenty of masks thrown on the roadside and parking areas, ” he said.

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