MalayMail 25 May 2010 Shahrim Tamrim
PETALING JAYA: The government’s decision to enforce the segregation of household waste in 2013 and the implementation of the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 has been described as long overdue by various non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Urging the government to be serious in its action to implement this policy, Waste Management Association of Malaysia (WMAM) chairman Ho De Leong said: “We welcome the implementation of the Act, which apparently was delayed due to the economic downturn last year. “What the public needs now is proper implementation by having the appropriate infrastructure in place quickly.” He said the public is ready for the move as the government embarked to promote the recycling awareness campaign since the turn of the millennium.
Department of National Solid Waste Management director general Datuk Dr Nadzri Yahaya made an announcement on it at the 2010 Waste Management Conference and Exhibition last week, while he reportedly said houses would be provided with free 120-litre bins to segregate organic and recyclable waste materials. “The latest announcement would reduce a significant portion of waste, buried in landfills as a great deal of discarded items can be recycled to good effect,” said Ho, adding that the implementation of the Act would also help to reduce the national carbon footprint. WMAM believes waste segregation would also create a new industry in the country by providing employment opportunities and a positive contribution towards the economy.
When asked if the next three years would be an appropriate time to start the segregation policy, he said: “I hope it can be enforced without much delay, if possible, before National Recycling Day on Nov 11 this year, so that the celebration would be more meaningful.” Malaysian Association of Standard Users executive Sam Wong also applauded the initiative and its call for greater transparency by local councils to segregate waste.
“We have been talking about recycling for the past couple of years but how do we know it’s being practised accordingly via the local councils by channelling waste for recycling?” Even though the waste management sector would be under Federal jurisdiction governed by the new Act, he said, “The public should observe with full interest of what the new waste management policy can offer compared with the previous set-up which was run by State governments.” Wong said it is very important for the segregation of waste to start at home.
“I believe of late, the public has become more aware of the needs and methods in separating waste materials into organic and inorganic matter, including the disposal of these items accordingly via the use of separate compartment tricycle bins. “Uncontaminated paper and other non-organic waste like plastic, metal and glass can then be easily retrieved and recycled. “I would be happy if the segregation of waste could be implemented soon. It would spur our recycling rate from five per cent to to 50 per cent, like in many developed countries.”
Reducing carbon footprints
THE Federal government should enforce the segregation of waste now rather than wait three years as it would indicate the government’s lack of commitment towards environmental causes. Selangor State exco member for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment, Elizabeth Wong, said: “Three years from now is too long. I don’t understand why the Federal government wants to buy time as every single day that goes by results in the use of more landfills.”
She said the Act should be enforced without delay as some members of the public are already accustomed to the practice of recycling for quite some time. ”Even though changing the mindset of Malaysians as a whole may take time, we see more people nowadays already segregating waste as part of their lives. ”If the government believes the public is not ready, it’s frustrating to note its unwillingness to enforce the new Act. ”If the economic recession last year is the reason why the government has not enforced it, then, I think that does not hold water.”
A path to urban renewal
HOUSING and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 would be fully enforced from next year. ”The plan to segregate waste from the public is the among the first steps to standardise the waste management sector as a step in the right direction for national waste management.” He said the country would otherwise face unsustainable disposal, given that waste generated by Malaysians has risen from 19,000 tonnes in 2005 to an estimated 30,000 tonnes by 2020.
“We need to facilitate this process wisely and enforcement should be conducted accordingly with assistance from the public in view of the refuse increase.”