Malaysia: No plastic bag ruling ineffective

SHEILA SRI PRIYA The Star 20 Jan 17;

THE National Solid Waste Management Department does not expect a significant reduction of plastic bags in the landfill following the ban of plastic bags. This is because the public continues to rely on plastic bags to discard their waste.

National Solid Waste Management Department director-general Ismail Mokhtar said plastic bags were still being purchased for waste disposal and discarded in the waste bins.

He revealed this when StarMetro asked him about the effects of the recent ban on plastic bags in the Federal Territories and Selangor.

Ismail said there would have to be a substitute to plastics bags if the local authorities wanted to ensure that their programmes were successful.

“Our department supports any move by anybody to help reduce waste generation in order to protect the environment. However, substitutes to plastic bags that can be reused and easily recycled must be introduced to make sure the programme is successful,” he added.

Ismail said in terms of plastic waste that is recycled, heavier plastic products were more sought after than plastic bags as they gave better returns.

Ismail said the Federal Government had set the goal of reducing solid waste disposal at landfill by 40% within the next three years.

The existing solid waste management methods consist of waste separation from the source, waste treatment at sanitary landfills, thermal treatment and biological treatment. The Government hopes to tap the latest technology for more effective waste-management purposes. This will be done through services that are cost-effective.

The aim is to reduce solid waste at landfills through waste reuse and recovery methods.

The Government hopes to produce refuse-derived fuel through its biological treatment in the future.

Between Sept 1, 2015 and Jan 4, 2017, some of 2,529.25 tonnes of waste were recycled, he said.

The implementation of "Separation at Source" began on June 1, 2016 simultaneously in seven states which adopted the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act 2007 (Act 672).

Besides the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Kedah and Perlis were also among the states that took part.

When asked about the success of the waste separation, Ismail said it was still not very encouraging.

“Based on a study conducted by the Ministry in October 2015, some 80% of Malaysians know about their obligation to separate waste at source. This shows that public awareness on solid waste separation is high.

“However, when it comes to implementation, it is less encouraging,” he said.

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