The Star, August 11, 2017
By Bavani M
Waste separation at source (SAS) that was enforced for landed residential households in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 will be extended to commercial establishments by January next year.
Commercial establishment here means hotels, shopping malls, retailers, offices and construction sites.
These establishments will have to segregate their wastes at source and ensure that recyclable wastes such as glass, paper and plastic are separated.
Food and beverage outlets would have to ensure that their organic and inorganic wastes are separated while retailers must ensure that their paper and plastic wastes are segregated too.
It has been two years since the government mandated that residential households segregate their waste in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Perlis and Kedah.
Although the regulation was implemented on June 1, 2015, it was only enforced on Sept 1 the same year.
SWCorp deputy chief executive officer Dr Mohd Pauze Mohamad Taha said they are in the midst of fine-tuning the Solid Waste & Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) to include commercial establishments.
It is expected to be ready by October this year with enforcement planned for early next year.
“We hope that once the regulations get the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ nod, we can start enforcement next year,” he said.
“We could not include commercial units earlier because although Act 672 governs all waste, for specific types of commercial waste we still need regulations.
“For example, the disposal of construction waste or non-hazardous industrial waste is a huge concern to us,” he added.
Construction waste encompassed debris generated at construction sites, from renovation and demolition works to road works, and included materials like cement, wood, metal, plastic and bricks which take up a sizeable amount of space in landfills.
Once the regulations are in place, developers and contractors must ensure proper segregation of construction waste at the project site to minimise air pollution and prevent illegal dumping.
By implementing the ruling on commercial establishments, the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) hoped to reduce the amount of waste at landfills significantly.
Based on SWCorp figures, a whopping 3,340,845.92 tonnes of waste ended up in 157 landfills last year. As of May this year, the amount stood at 1,318,248.65 tonnes.
Malaysian households produce 38,000 tonnes of waste per day. In Kuala Lumpur, the average domestic waste per household is 0.8kg per person per day or 1,600 tonnes for a city with a population of two million.
SWCorp reported that from June 1 last year to this July 20, enforcement officers visited 150 townships in Kuala Lumpur and checked about 15,583 premises.
Mohd Puaze said that from their observation, compliance in landed properties were encouraging.
Those who fail to segregate their waste at source can be fined a maximum RM1,000.
The tenant or owner of a landed property can be fined RM50 (first offence), RM100 (second offence) and RM500 (third offence).
This ruling was also implemented for high-rise residential properties in 2015 but has not been enforced yet due to difficulties identifying those who did not separate their wastes.
The penalty for those living in high-rise condos, apartments and flats are RM100, RM200 and RM500 respectively but Mohd Puaze said they have been going easy on high-rise dwellers.
“For the time being, we are not going to penalise them (non-landed properties). I feel the level of understanding is not there and the time is not right.
“It is also challenging because in landed residential properties, you can tell who is not separating their waste.
“With non-landed properties, everyone’s rubbish goes into one bin so it is pretty difficult to pin-point the culprit.
“We will continue to engage with residents and hope they will use the recycling cages provided by Alam Flora Sdn Bhd,” said Mohd Pauze.
About 1,150 recycling cages were provided to residents living in high-rise buildings in Kuala Lumpur to separate their recycled waste early last year.
However, more than half of those cages were not being utilised.
Mohd Pauze said the facilities were provided to encourage people to recycle and it is the responsibility of the community to use it well.
“We are aware that the cages are not being fully utilised. To my knowledge, most people are using it, only a handful are not,” he said.
The department, he said, had been measuring the amount of waste going into landfills since separation at source was implemented and the figures showed an overall reduction of between 5% and 6% every month.
Within five years since 2012, the recycling rate in the city increased from 5% to 17.5% and Mohd Pauze is optimistic that the Government’s target of 22% by 2020 was achievable.
“Our recycling rate is increasing thanks to education and awareness campaigns,’’ he said.
He added that SWCorp was working on a pilot project with residents living in PPR flats in Lembah Subang on waste management and they are also introducing an education module for preschools on the importance of recycling.
“We want to expose young children to waste separation and recycling at kindergarten level, and I want these children to go home and teach their parents on the right way to dispose of rubbish.
“Our goal is to change peoples’ mindset, lifestyle and encourage them to embrace recycling; it’s not easy but we will get there for sure.”
What businesses say
Businesses in the city have pledged to work with the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation and Kuala Lumpur City Hall to streamline the management of waste in the city.
Some of the organisations contacted lauded the government’s decision to regulate waste management by commercial establishments.
Federal Hotels International senior general manager Simon Leong welcomed the move.
“We are proud to say that we have been doing it for a long time,” said Leong, who is also the Bukit Bintang Central Environmental Committee (BBCEC) chairman.
He added that the hotel was taking their greening efforts a step further by having an in-house compost machine.
“With a compost machine, we can turn food waste into fertiliser and use it for our in-house gardens,’’ Leong added.
Several retailers located in the city also expressed their support for the government’s initiative.
“We welcome the move but we hope to get ample notice,’’ said Mark Loo, a bag shop owner from Bukit Bintang.
Restaurant owner, Kiki Lee from Cheras, conceded it might be challenging.
“Separating waste at home is one thing, doing it for business would not be easy; but we are willing to give it our best,” said Lee.
Another trader operating a print shop in Brickfields, who only wanted to be identified as G. Ram said: “Well if its law, then we have to follow.’’
Environment officer Mohd Hafiz Mohd Yatim, who works for a construction company in Jalan Kelang Lama, said the new regulations would not only reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, it should also prevent illegal dumping.
“Right now, a lot of contractors tend to take the easy way out by not separating construction waste and some even dump their waste illegally. So to me this is a good thing,’’ Mohd Hafiz said.