Waste Segregation Ruling Receiving Positive Response From Residents - SWCorp

By Norshazlina Nor'azman

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 (Bernama) -- It has been a year since the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 was enforced and SWCorp Malaysia, the agency tasked with regulating the management of solid waste and public cleansing in the country, is quite pleased that the public is responding "positively" towards the waste segregation or separation at source (SAS) programme.

SWCorp Malaysia Federal Territories Director Hazilah Gumri said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of households supporting the programme.

"We've been getting positive feedback from them and the people are now becoming more aware of the importance of segregating their household waste for the sake of environmental sustainability," she said.

The Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act was enforced on Sept 1 last year in six states - Johor, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Perlis and Pahang - and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

It is aimed at introducing uniform solid waste management services, in line with the government's efforts to increase the nation's recycling rate and reduce the amount of solid wastes sent to landfills, that are fast running out of space.

The Act makes it compulsory for residents to separate three categories of solid wastes, namely paper, plastic and other recyclables, at source or face fines of between RM50 and RM500.

The residents were given a grace period of up to June 1 to adhere to the Act.

ISSUE NOTICE FIRST

On whether the enforcement of the Act would help Malaysia surpass its recycling rate target of 22 per cent by 2020, Hazilah said: "The government hopes to attain the 22 per cent or higher target by 2020 or even earlier but it can only become a reality if the public give their unwavering support to the SAS programme."

Malaysia's recycling rate stood at 17.5 per cent last year, a dismal rate compared with 90 per cent in Japan and 50 per cent in Singapore.

"Singapore has been practising recycling for sometime now, while the Japanese are educated (on the importance of recycling) since young," she said.

On SWCorp's enforcement activities thus far, Hazilah told Bernama a total of 35 offence notices were issued in Kuala Lumpur following random checks on households in the first month after the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act was properly enforced in June. No notices were issued in Putrajaya in the same period, reflecting a high level of awareness of SAS among the residents there.

The Act does not provide for compounding of offences as it states that only a "Sessions Court shall have jurisdiction to try any offence under this Act or any regulations made under this Act, and to impose the full punishment for any such offence".

"We can't issue compounds... we can only give (the offender) a notice first before we submit our investigation papers to the Deputy Public Prosecutor's office for further action to be taken," she said.

For landed properties, the fine for offences committed under the Act is RM50 for the first offence, RM100 (second offence) and RM500 (third offence), while for non-landed properties, the fine is RM100, RM200 and RM500 respectively. For the fourth and subsequent offences, offenders face a fine of up to RM1,000.

NOT THAT COMPLICATED

Hazilah said SWCorp was confident that over time, more Malaysians would make a habit out of segregating solid household wastes as it was not at all a complicated task.

"Usually when we want the public to do something new, we're bound to face all kinds of obstacles as it's not easy to educate the people and change their mindsets. But over time they will get used to it," she said.

She said under the SAS programme, only three categories of waste were required to be separated, whereas other countries, where waste separation was mandatory, have dozens of categories.

Malaysia's paper category includes A4-sized paper, boxes, cardboard, postcards and brochures, while plastic includes water bottles, food containers, shampoo bottles and pails.

The "other recyclables" category include glass; ceramics; tin cans; kitchen items like spoons, ladles and pots; and small electrical items like batteries, calculators, mobile phones, lamps and kettles. Other items like handbags, clothes and gloves, as well as paint cans, aerosol cans and receptacles used for keeping rat or termite poison can also be thrown into this category.

ANY PLASTIC BAG

Residents need not have to put the three categories of waste into separate garbage bins, said Hazilah, adding that all they have to do was to put them in separate plastic bags.

"For the time being we're giving them the option to use any kind of plastic bag. They can be creative if they want, as long as they separate their wastes and don't mix the recyclables with the food waste.

"And, after putting the wastes into separate plastic bags, they should not place them together inside the rubbish bin. Put the bag containing the food waste into the bin and place the other bags (of recyclables) beside the bin outside," she said, adding that residents could also choose to earn some extra cash by selling their recyclables.

Flat and apartment dwellers can place their bags of separated solid wastes at the designated areas on each floor or the ground floor, added Hazilah, pointing out that should any of them fail to adhere to the SAS ruling, SWCorp would issue the offence notice to the building's joint management committee.

"It's the responsibility of each and every resident to separate their household wastes," she said.

-- BERNAMA