39,000 tonnes of solid waste daily


PETALING JAYA: Every day, Malaysians throw away about 39,078 tonnes of solid waste, equivalent to about 1.17kg per person, says the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp).

On average, food makes up the biggest component of domestic waste at 30.6%, followed by plastic (21.9%), paper (15.3%), disposable diapers (8.2%) and hazardous household waste (4.2%).

Other waste includes commingled waste (3.6%), yard/garden refuse (2.9%), glass (2.7%), metal (2.4%), textiles (2.3%), beverage cartons (1.7%), rubber (1.1%), wood (1%) and face masks (0.7%).

As such, the authorities are urging the public to help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills through the simple practice of reducing, reusing and recycling (3R), as the government ponders on sustainable solutions to handle the burgeoning problem.

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SWCorp chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Husaini Abdul Rahman said that population growth is one of the biggest factors in the increasing generation of solid waste, besides Malaysians’ lack of concern for the environment and low awareness on recycling as a high-value practice.

He said the amount of waste sent to disposal sites under the seven states that adopt the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007, also known as Act 672, stood at 2.67 million tonnes from January to October 2023.

The corresponding figures for 2022 and 2021 were 3.1 million tonnes and three million tonnes respectively.

“The construction of waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, or incinerators that generate electricity, are expected to help manage solid waste by reducing reliance on landfills, in addition to generating power.

“With the National Recycling Rate at 35.38% in 2023, with the target of reaching 40% by 2025, it is hoped that the public can reduce the disposal of solid waste directly to the landfills,” he told The Star.

Ahmad Husaini added that although the amount of solid waste generated is increasing every year, the situation is still under control for the seven states that adopted Act 672.

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Under this Act, households in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Perlis and Kedah are required to separate their waste into recyclables and non-recyclables.

He also said there is a need for the enforcement of solid waste separation activities at source to be implemented in all states.

“With the enforcement of this regulation in all states in Malaysia, it will certainly obligate the community to carry out waste segregation, as well as carry out recycling activities,” he said, adding that another strategy includes strengthening solid waste management in the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors, besides collective participation from society.

Without cooperation from every level of society, the efforts made by the government are in vain, said Ahmad Husaini.

He added that the Local Government Development Ministry, through SWCorp, is now focusing on accelerating the transition of solid waste management from a linear economic model to a sustainable cyclical economic model as outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan.

In a circular economy, products are either recycled, remanufactured or reused, and returned to the economy after they have served their initial purpose.

He called upon individuals, communities and organisations to support this effort.

“The initial action that can be started by all is to practice 3R.

“For example, practise the concept of reducing when you go shopping by planning purchases, avoiding buying more than you need, and avoiding using single-use plastic as packaging.

“The practice of reuse can also be implemented by bringing reusable bags, food containers or water bottles while shopping, which is a way to reduce waste from disposable products.

“After all the actions of reducing and reusing are implemented, then we move to the final phase, which is recycling,” he said, adding that the people are called to carry out waste segregation at home.

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