LAST_UPDATESun, 20 May 2018 9pm

How Malaysians Are Coping With The Waste Separation Programme A Week After Implementation

FilePic: wiseGEEKFilePic: wiseGEEK

On average each Malaysian produces 0.8kg of waste every day. If we include individuals living in the cities, the number is a lot bigger. It is estimated that city dwellers produce 1.5kg of waste per person each day.

If you do the math, that means the whole nation dumps a mind boggling 22,000 tonnes of trash per day, according to a 2012 government survey.

Even though Malaysia has many solid waste disposal sites but it is not enough to accommodate the amount of garbage that we produced. The government survey also revealed that the projected waste generated by urban dwellers today threaten to exceed government's projected waste production of 30,000 tonnes daily by 2020.

Something has to be done before Malaysia runs out of space to store its garbage, which is where the compulsory separation of waste at source or from the house comes into play.

The separation of waste initiative, a federal programme was formulated as part of the Solid Waste & Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) which aims to reduce the amount of solid waste sent to dumpsites by 40%. by the year 2020.

Residents in the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan; Kedah and Perlis are initially involved in this programme under Act 672.

Notice will only be given to households who fail to abide by the programme until the law is actually enforced on those who fail to comply with the requirement effective 1 June 2016, which gives Malaysians roughly 10 months to get used to separating their solid waste.

According to Act 672, up to RM1,000 is the maximum compound that can be imposed on residents who refuse to separate their solid waste. First time offenders will be fined RM50, the subsequent offenders will be fined RM100 and RM500. If the fines remain unpaid, the offender can be taken to court and be charged with a maximum fine of RM1,000.

Now why does the government suddenly want us to separate our solid waste at source or at home?

First, managing and processing all the solid waste that we produced is not cheap. Last year the state of Selangor spent RM300,000 a year to manage garbage and solid waste.

The campaign separating solid waste at source or at home, will have a big impact on the environment and cost management of solid waste at a cost of nearly RM2 billion a year.

The campaign is also to reduce solid waste that are carried to disposal sites and to help extend its life expectancy.

Solid waste separation and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle or 3R practice are known as as one of the most effective measures to reduce the amount of solid waste production and transmission to the landfill.

For instance the Dengkil Inert Waste Landfill which started in 2006, can only last for another four to five years, before the site reaches capacity.

Another important thing we have to remember is our environment is deteriorating and SWCorp is taking the initiative to save Mother Nature, also by separating our solid waste, we actually ease the management and treatment of solid waste further.

SWCorp To Focus On Advocacy And Education


Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) is the agency tasked with implementing the “‘Separation of Solid Waste at Source” programme which started on 1 September 2015.

The programme is meant for residents to separate their solid waste produce at source by the composition of the solid waste like paper, plastic and other recyclable materials such as glass or ceramic, can, aluminium, iron, metal, electronic waste, fabric, shoes, leather, and dangerous waste. Not only that, residents also has to separate waste remnants like leftover food, diapers, and other organic waste.

Datuk Ab Rahim. Pic: Ab Rahim. Pic: to SWCorp chief executive officer, Datuk Ab Rahim Md Noor, a survey was conducted in 2009 and it was revealed that the public have high awareness of recycling with 89 percent of the 55,000 respondents said they are aware of 3R practices. Sadly, they did not make it a culture, Bernama reports.

Ab Rahim further stated SWCorp did everything they can to ensure cleanliness, but, the efforts were fruitless because the public mindset has not changed.

The community still have this mindset that cleaning or managing waste is the authorities’ responsibility only, when we should realize that, as the biggest contributor producing waste, we should also play a role in making the change.

In fact, SWCorp has been rigorous in promoting greener culture. According to SWCorp, they have been engaging with residents, going door-to-door since last July in all seven states that are under the Act 672, simultaneously, as explained to Malaysian Digest by their spokesperson.

“What we did was we went to premises or housing areas that are using our services from [our appointed] concessions, to hand out fliers and pamphlets about solid waste separation at source.

“This effort [solid waste separation at source] is not something new actually. Before this we call it 2+1 but when the response is unsatisfactory, that is why we do this programme.

“Malaysians know about recycling but lack awareness,” the spokesperson told us.

 Public Reaction To Being Asked To Separate Their Garbage

So we have established that Malaysians know about recycling but they have not embraced it as part of their daily habits.

The public are used to putting all remnants or solid waste into one bin and to break the practice that we use to, that is going to be a challenge.

“We acknowledge that we have a big challenge in managing solid waste. In developing and developed countries, the recycling rate is high because its people feel that it is their responsibility to take care of the environment and this is a measure to manage waste,” said Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Datuk Rahman Dahlan as reported by Berita Harian.

He further stated, the recycling rate in Malaysia is estimated around 10 to 11 percent only and the ministry is targeting at least by 2020 the rate will be 22 percent.

Since the programme was started about more than a week ago, we reached out to residents living in areas where the programme has been implemented  to get their response.

Working as a food vendor near the Giant Setiawangsa, Zulkifli Nordin, 40, said he is not aware about the programme and think that there has to be an aggressive publicity blitz through various channels just like what the government did for the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“The programme is good but there is not much publicity about it. But when the government wanted the people to know about GST, we could see and hear the advertisements in TV, billboards and radio.

“This ‘Solid Waste Separation at Source’ programme is actually good because we should really start recycling,” he said.

Nur Syafikah, a 26-year-old banker also agreed with the opinion.

“I was not aware of it until you mentioned about it. I mean seriously, as far as I can remember, I have not seen or heard about this programme.

“It’s a good programme but it’s such a waste because it’s not received much publicity,” she said.

We then asked her if she practices the 3R, and sheepishly said, “No, I don’t. I mean I am aware about the importance of recycling but doing it can be rather troublesome sometimes.”

However not all Malaysians are oblivious about this green programme.

Arian, 30-year-old perfume seller says he has seen people tweeting about it. He also feels that changing Malaysians’ mindset would be a daunting task.

“I agree that not much promotion has been done but there are people talking about it. One of the people that I follow on Twitter always talked about separating solid waste on 1 September. But it stops there.

“I also know about the 2+1 collection where all recyclable waste are put in one bin but now we have to separate it so it is going to be a challenge for us,” he said.

Arian also told us that he does recycle but he puts all recyclable waste into one bag rather than separating them according to paper, plastic, and metal categories.

He further said, despite the difficulty in educating Malaysians to really start recycling, he hopes the programme will be part Malaysian culture in the future.

Melissa Chong, 53-year-old teacher said her friends told her about the programme and think that more people should know about it.

“My friend and I talked about it but when I asked my colleagues, majority of them are not aware of the programme.

“It’s sad because more people should know about this,” she said.

“Recycling should be part of our life because our children and their children deserve to have clean and beautiful environment,” she further explained.

Recycling 101 - For Those Of Us Who Are Still Clueless On How To Separate Our Trash

If you have been separating your rubbish before, good job! For some us who are new to waste separation, it may look like a tiresome task, but on the bright side we will finally be doing our part to save the environment.

According to the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleanliness Corporation (SWCorp), you’ll need to separate your waste in the following categories:

1. Paper – discarded receipts, cardboard, paper, newspapers, magazines, drink cartons and anything made of paper that’s dry/uncontaminated.

2. Plastic – bottles, plastic bags, and anything else made of plastic (this can include plastic toys and plastic and polystyrene food containers – rinsed first).

3. Miscellaneous – pack and separate according to these groups:
a. Glass/ceramic wares (bottles, pots, etc.)
b. Aluminium/metal (such as cans, steel utensils, etc.)
c. Electronics (batteries, calculators, phones, wires, cables, lightbulbs and small electrical items).
d. Fabric/shoes/rubber/leather (T-shirts, handbags, sneakers, rubber gloves, etc.)
e. Hazardous waste (aerosol cans, insect poison/repellent, paint cans).
f. Bulk items (furniture, bed frame, large electrical items).
g. Garden waste (leaves, flowers, etc.)

4. Non-recyclables: residual waste such as food items and soiled/wet materials like used diapers and tissues. Only these will be sent to landfills.

So you have separated your waste according to categories. Now you have to wait for the garbage lorry appointed by SWCorp to collect your recyclable waste.

On that day, items in category one to three must be put outside of the rubbish bin while residual waste must be packed in a plastic bag and put inside the bin.

As for the collection day schedule, it will vary according to area. The important thing to remember is recyclable waste will be collected once a week and residual waste, twice a week. To find out about collection days in your area, go to





-Malaysian Digest