PETALING JAYA: Many Malaysians have not fully grasped the importance of waste management and the idea of recycling despite countless national campaigns and enforcement efforts over the years.
Data furnished by the Federal Territories Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) shows that 820,217 tonnes of waste were produced in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya alone last year, but only 0.2% of the waste was separated at source.
The government’s Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007, which makes it compulsory for residents to separate their solid waste according to the categories of paper, plastics and others, has not produced the desired results.
The Act, which came into force in 2015, also carries a fine of between RM50 and RM500 for landed property owners and joint management bodies that fail to separate their waste.
The National Recycling Rate (NRR), which currently stands at 31.52%, reflects the nation’s widespread apathy when it comes to recycling.
SWCorp waste collection in Perlis, Kedah, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya shows that over 13 million tonnes of waste were generated every year since 2015, and that number is increasing exponentially.
The increase in waste generation is in tandem with the increase in population, with each Malaysian producing an average of 1.17kg of waste per day, it said in a statement.
“The number is something that we should be worried about because if the number keeps increasing, the cost to manage solid waste will increase and it will burden the government and it will also shorten the landfill’s lifespan,” it added.
Several initiatives have been introduced to boost the country’s recycling rate, including community awareness programmes, increasing the number of public recycling facilities and holding programmes such as Trash To Cash (T2C).
The T2C initiative allows households to either trade-in or sell recyclable and used goods.
Another initiative was the Waste Zero Community Programme, a recycling centre in People’s Housing Project (PPR) areas to educate the community on solid waste segregation and to cultivate the practice of valuing waste as a resource.
Federal Territories SWCorp director Ummi Kalthum Shuib said the high amount of unseparated waste in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya comes from the many high-rise buildings that have no recycling facilities.
The corporation recently instructed all joint management bodies in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya to provide recycling facilities at their premises.
The corporation, she added, is currently engaging these bodies to provide them with the necessary information before enforcement starts next year.
Joint management bodies that fail to provide recycling facilities can be slapped with a maximum fine of RM1,000.
“Some would say RM1,000 is not much so it is not a big deal to pay the fine, but we will be checking and coming back every week to see if they have installed the facilities.
“For each week that they fail to do so, we will issue them with a RM1,000 fine, which will add up to a large sum,” said Ummi Kalthum.