The recycling process starts with the segregation process at the starting point. Image source: Ministry of Housing & Local Government
Let’s talk about something else that seems to take a back seat amidst the political circus in Malaysia – the environment and in particular, the level of recycling in Malaysia.
In early 2009, this was reported:-
Malaysia’s housing ministry bemoaned the country’s low recycling rate which is currently a dismal 5 per cent, far lower than its neighbouring South-east Asian neighbours, official news reports said Monday
Neighbouring Singapore recorded a 56% recycling rate last year and the Philippines at 12% while Malaysia’s northern neighbours Thailand boasted almost a 50% cycling rate in 2008
Another source on the net reveals that most of the developed countries have almost 50% or higher rates compared to Malaysian’s 5% (it may have improved by 0.0001% in 2010 but we will never know for sure).
MNI reveals that for every 10 newspaper sold, 6 are recovered through recycling. Although percentage wise, it looks impressive (60%), it still means 128,000 tonnes (2.55 million trees) going to the waste.
To tell you the truth, I am not surprised why this is happening.
Firstly look at the various new housing areas – just how many of them have special disposal areas or bins?
When it comes to local authorities setting up separate waste disposal bins, those housing areas managed by MPSJ faired better (I do not know about others, if they are good, please let me know). I have seen dedicated disposal bins placed in designated areas, usually in strategic places and the response has been good.
But it is not enough because secondly, even if we segregated the rubbish into recyclable ones and non-recyclable ones – when the dump truck comes, it gets all mixed up. So it is back to square one.
The fact of the matter is that there is little effort put into getting more people to recycle and for those who do, to facilitate the whole process. There is a dire need to attack the lack of recycling among Malaysians and it should be in two prongs – one from the end-users (people like you and me) and one from the authorities.
Obviously, it has to start with educating people so that the process of recycling starts at home – the source of million tonnes of rubbish on yearly basis.
We used to collect old newspapers and sell them to the old man who collects recyclable items. But nowadays, we hardly buy newspapers so one part of recycling items are resolved. Bottles are usually “recycled” for storage.
We used to keep our garbage separate based on the “recyclability” of the items but after seeing our “different” bags gets dumped on the same side of the garbage dump truck, we got discouraged.
It will be a good start on recycling if the local authorities start with the placement of the specialised recycling bins and arrangements can be made with private rubbish collectors to ensure that it is not get collected in the same pile.
The more these dedicated recycling bins are made visible in residential areas; it will encourage more people to recycle more household rubbish slowly and surely.
Mention recycling to some people and expect to get a strange stare back from them. That itself shows that public awareness is not that wide and is well known. We need to make a better effort – both from end-users and the local authorities if we want to move beyond the dismal 5% recycling rate.