KUCHING: The government has set a target of 22 per cent solid waste recycling rate by 2020 as recycling could save the nation hundreds of millions of ringgit annually.
About 40 per cent of solid waste are recyclable. If we could segregate and divert the recyclable solid waste, managing it would save the government a lot of money,” said Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin while officiating at the launch of the State Recycling Campaign Programme at Tabuan Jaya yesterday.
Lajim estimated that there are about 250 landfills throughout the country. Managing them costs the governments millions of ringgit yearly. About RM10,000 per month is needed to manage a landfill in the rural area while bigger ones in the city could cost up to RM30,000 – RM40,000.
Therefore if more recycling system were to be implemented, landfill usage could be reduced. In addition, the government is committed to meeting the 22 per cent target as the amount of solid waste produced each year is rising drastically.
Lajim said: “In 2002, a total of 17,000 tonnes of solid waste was produced daily and this figure rose to 19,000 tonnes daily by 2005. By 2020, it is estimated that 30,000 tonnes of solid waste will be produced daily. This rise must be halted.”
He urged all government departments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGO), higher learning institutes and schools to support the recycling campaign to meet the government target.
He said more awareness on the seriousness of the issue should be highlighted to the public.
He mentioned government plans to introduce a kerbside collection of recyclable waste nationwide, based on the project tested at Putrajaya since 2005. Collection of recyclable waste from the area increased to 970 tonnes in 2009 compared to 740 tonnes previously. Lajim said this is due to increasing awareness on recycling.
The government spent close to RM900 million annually on the collection and management of solid waste. Even though there were plans to privatise the work, he considered the RM1.5 billion proposed too much. Lajim said the extra RM600 million should be put to better use such as for rural infrastructure and educational development.
While praising the numerous efforts on promoting recycling by various sectors, he said it should be continued and the issue treated as a national agenda.
At the same ceremony, State Environment and Public Health Assistant Minister Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie revealed: “In 2007 and 2008, Malaysian households produced about 25 million tonnes of waste with a mere 17 per cent recycled. This figure is too low.
“I urge all related government agencies such as the Natural Resources Environmental Board (NREB) and Department of Environment (DOE) as well as NGOs to continue educating the public on the benefits of recycling,” Nansian added.
Meamwhile, Lajim highlighted the government proposal to gradually phase out the usage of plastic bags.
Plastic bags take years to degrade which is not good for the environment.
“We are not enforcing a law to ban plastic bags. Instead, we are promoting an awareness programme to encourage the public to adopt the ‘no plastic bag’ ruling.
“We are giving time to the plastic makers to adopt a new business strategy and for supermarkets and shops to adopt alternative packaging for consumers,” Lajim said.
Lajim hoped biodegradable plastic bags could be introduced while applauding the ‘No plastic bags day’ concept introduced by various supermarkets in Miri and Sibu lately.
Yesterday’s launch saw schools, NGOs, businesses and councils given awards for enhancing recycle awareness campaigns among the public.
Schools that received recognition certificates were SK Chung Hua No.6, SK St Teresa, SK St Joseph, SK Laksamana, SMK Agama Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, SMK Matang Jaya, SMK ST Mary and Tadika Rhema.