Take action now to reduce waste

A representative for the management, Thum Lai Sin recycling plastic bottles at the Taman Desa Relau 2 recycling centre located at the entrance of the apartments in Relau. The residents in the apartment have responded pisitively to the implementation of waste segregation by the state government. At Taman Desa Relau 2, Relau, PenangStarpic by LIM BENG TATT/ THE STAR / 01 Jun 2016.

I FELT good reading the report on plans to build sanitary landfills (“Plans in the works to build sanitary landfills”, Nation, The Star, Jan 24; online at bit.ly/star_landfills) with the intention of moving onto waste-to-energy concept plants using anaerobic digesters and biodigestion. The government has clearly defined the problem of ever-mounting waste and set out to adopt technology and waste management techniques to rectify it.

However, the good feeling turned bad when I read the adjacent news report on the meagre percentage of waste that is recycled every year: 0.06% or 1,800 tonnes out of three million tonnes. The rest apparently ends up in landfills or is burned. A lot of plastic waste also ends up in our waters – about 30,000 tonnes annually is disgorged into our seas, according to National Geographic. This makes us the eighth largest plastic dumper in the world, a fact which our government has admitted to.

A foregone conclusion that can be drawn from these two reports is that the landfills, even the high- tech ones, will have great difficulty coping with the annual three million tonnes of waste and counting. It does seem daunting to know that the pile of waste will be growing ever bigger but if you can do something about the problem, you might feel a little better – and everyone one of us can take steps to help.

All of us can adopt the Rs of reduce, reuse, recycle and rot (decompose) in our daily lives. These Rs are already well known and do not require much effort to easily incorporate into everyday living. They can be financially beneficial to the practitioners as well.

Local authorities should provide an extra bin for all households for recyclable materials of metal, recyclable plastic, glass, paper and e-waste to be collected once a week. This method of single-stream recycling has been found to be the most efficient and productive method.

Local authorities should work with private recycling companies to form teams of workers that can go around housing estates to collect recyclable materials. These materials are usually stuff left outside by residents and not collected by the authorised rubbish collectors or, worse, simply left lying on pavements, in drains and open fields.

In some well-developed housing estates, waste solution providers such as iCycle and Kohijau have started to get residents to practise single-stream and compost recycling. Using a barcode system of identifying the people depositing their recyclables, points for redeeming rewards are given out. This is a rewarding and easy way to encourage residents to start recycling.

Reduce the roadmap to zero single-use plastic from 12 to three to five years, as 12 years is much too long. A longer time to ban single-use plastic will amount to ever more waste and spell more trouble for the environment. Innovative, strong and decisive action must be implemented now for a better and cleaner environment for future generations.


Petaling Jaya

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