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Fines To Encourage More Recycling – Are Malaysians Ready?

An article by Malaysian Digest.

While us Malaysians turn a blind eye towards anything ‘green’ or especially to do with recycling - think again, as it might drain our wallets soon enough.

Did you know that from January 1, 2016, a maximum fine of RM1,000 will be imposed on people who do not separate solid waste according to types in suitable plastic bags before dumping them at home?

Notices will be issued to those who fail to do so in the first three months after the Act is implemented, and action will be taken if they still refuse to do so as required under Act 672.

This is according to the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister, Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique, who recently mentioned via Bernama that it would be implemented in stages from this September 1.

“On July 1, we will begin distributing pamphlets on the matter and by September 1, reminders will be issued to households which still do not comply with the regulation,” she stressed.

What Malaysians Need To Know

Malaysians produce approximately 30,000 tonnes of waste everyday - and only 5% are recycled. And currently, with this new implementation, only 10.5% of Malaysians practise recycling their waste.

Leftover waste must be placed in proper containers or garbage bags and put in the garbage bins supplied by the concession company, while recyclable waste, must be separated according to type, with paper waste going into the blue garbage bag, and plastic waste into the white garbage bag and other recyclable waste like glass, electronic items and aluminium tins into the green garbage bag.

These household and domestic waste usually end up in landfills after being collected by garbage sources, taking out valuable space that other sectors, such as infrastructure development, property, and agriculture are vying for as well.

According to Alam Flora, which collaborates closely with 13 Local Authorities (LA), they currently provide public cleansing and waste management for 33 schemes zones, in certain regions of Peninsular Malaysia, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, and Pahang.

Alam Flora amasses an average of 1.01 million tonnes of waste, and while most of these originate from covered and open drains, beaches, highways, main roads, side and back lanes as well as solid waste, common household products that can be reused and recycled, from resources that are depleting fast can be recycled, and should be.

Recycling Practices In Malaysia

Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reducing the consumption of fresh raw materials, energy usage, air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production.

Malaysian Digest contacted an individual who is in charge of the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) programme in Alam Flora, who enlightened us on why recycling is important in our homeland.

“The solution to this difficult problem is recycling – it conserves our natural resources that are non-renewable and reduces the amount of rubbish that goes into our landfills, thus lengthening the lifespan of existing landfills,” she explained.

In other words, recycling is an excellent way of saving energy and conserving the environment.

“Our 3R service is only in Putrajaya for now, from what I know. Here, we have our own recycling centres, which include many other places in Putrajaya for the residents to send their items to our centres.

“We also provide collection services at government offices, houses and schools. We do that everyday for government offices, from Monday to Friday, the same goes for schools. As for residences, we have a weekly schedule for collection to be done on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

“As I have mentioned, it's only here in Putrajaya that recycling is really an active effort compared with other areas in Kuala Lumpur.

“We currently have five trucks with workers that come and collect the waste, and that’s enough to cover the entire Putrajaya,” she shared.

And while consumers know that trash should be separated accordingly into paper, glass, and aluminum bins, is it really the public or the collectors’ responsibility to sort out the waste?

“I believe it involves both parties. We will give residences plastic bags for recycling, so they’ll put their waste in the plastic bags which we then collect. A new one will be given once they've used the old one.”

While plastic bags are given, no recycling bins are given for obvious reasons, and unfortunately, no money is given for the recycled items collected from the houses either.

“We only pay the residents if they send their items to our recycling centre, the same goes for government offices, schools and corporate offices. The rates differ, for example, we will pay around 30 cents for black and white papers, 22 cents for magazines, 30 cents for aluminium cans, and RM3, per kilogram of aluminium. There’s a fixed rate for these items - for one kilogramme each,” she detailed.

She also mentioned that for now, there are no plans to increase the payment rates.

“Surprisingly, many people come to our recycling centre. We are open everyday and even on public holidays,” she tells us.

Educating The Public About Recycling

It is apparent that in most areas in Kuala Lumpur, finding recycling boxes, or even communities that engage in 3R activities are a very rare sight.

Ask anyone and you will find that most people are unaware of the 3R's and lack knowledge about the processes involved during recycling.

The spokesperson continues to share with us the processes involved after the waste has been collected, based on her experience being in charge of collection.

“We process the items then send them off to factories. When it comes to sieving the items, we will sort them out for the factories.

“Most Putrajaya residents are aware of this, but not others in the suburban areas of Kuala Lumpur.

“We have organised awareness campaigns with the KL Municipal Council (DBKL), just recently, and there will be more to come soon.

“Campaigns are usually held here in Putrajaya. We also visit areas and conduct workshops about recycline, from the processes to the steps of recycling, basically just educating the public.

“Residents of Putrajaya rarely do not comply with the ‘rules’ of recycling. In fact, most who come and send their items are eager to recycle as they aspire ‘to save the world’. So, usually, we have one hundred percent commitment from them.

“It is rare to find people who aren’t interested in recycling, besides, we are already providing the service to them, coming to their places and helping them collect their waste- we make recycling easy for the public.

“If you live in Putrajaya, we'll do the waste sorting for you,” she proudly exclaims.

Why Malaysians Must Recycle?

“One reason why we should recycle, well at least here in Putrajaya, is the fact that we can help save the Earth and to save on trash and unnecessary waste,” she emphasises.

The Putrajaya trash landfill however, is located in Dengkil, the contact tells Malaysian Digest, to which we tracked down one of the operators of the Dengkil Inert Waste Landfill.

“Most trash that comes to the Dengkil landfill are the dry garbage,” comments the operator, who wishes to be anonymous.

“The inert waste landfill is an inert waste disposal facility for construction and demolition wastes such as soil, tyres, garden wastes and other dry wastes. The facility deploys environmental-friendly treatment that minimises any potential impacts on the environment through groundwater monitoring.

“In one day, on an average, we get around 250 tonnes of waste from all of KL and the Klang Valley. Putrajaya itself contributes only 40 tonnes daily, and we cater to all other cities and town councils, like Subang Jaya.

“We get a variety of wastes here, from glass, to paper and metal items. Our landfill size is around 150 acres, which is not that big.

“We don’t burn the trash, we bury them, starting with the first layer of trash at the bottom, followed by soil and sand on top, and then another layer of trash.

“So far, the mountain of trash we've received has amounted to around 20 metres tall now. Thankfully, don't worry, all these items can be composted, although items such as plastic does take a really long time.

“But we are not in charge of collecting trash in some areas like Ampang for example, however, but we do collect trash from Subang. And for Subang, the trash collected amounts to around 80 tonnes daily, twice more than Putrajaya.

"They have a lot of waste, from their parks (such as plants and trees) and commercial products. They really need to recycle a whole lot more.

“The Dengkil Inert Waste Landfill can only last for another four to five years, before the mountains of trash will be filled. We started in 2006, and in a little over a decade, the trash has been piling up,” says the concerned landfill operator.

Here’s what recycling these three components (glass, aluminum and paper) can yield:

● Recycling 1 ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space ● The energy saved by recycling a single plastic bottle is enough to power a 60-watt bulb for six hours ● Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator

● Recycling one aluminum saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours ● It takes about 400 years for aluminum to break down naturally ● Aluminum can be recycled over and over without breaking down

● The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours ● Glass is 100%recyclable and can be used over again

● One tonne of paper saves : ● 17 trees ● 2 barrels of oil ● 4,100 kilowatts of energy

Better Late Than Never

For those who are living in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis and Kedah - the separation of solid waste will be fully enforced this coming September.

The Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said that with the implementation of the mandatory household solid waste separation programme, would improve solid waste collection and management in the country.

Maybe it is about time. And that time is coming really soon, for Malaysians to update their knowledge on recycling, and start doing their part by recycling their waste, for the sake of Malaysia, and the environment.

-Malaysian Digest

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