THE National Solid Waste Management Department estimated that each Malaysian generates 1.17kg of waste daily. This amounts to over 427kg of waste a year per person. With a population close to 33 million Malaysians, this translates to roughly 14 million tonnes of waste generated annually. 90% of the waste is directed to landfills; only 10.5% are recycled.
Ineffective waste management is harmful to the environment, contributing to air pollution, biodiversity erosion, soil and water contamination, and climate change. Landfills produce two of the most prevalent greenhouse gases contributing to climate change – methane and carbon dioxide. Methane is produced due to the microorganisms present in the biodegradable waste. At the same time, carbon dioxide is emitted mainly during disposal in landfill
Waste presents both direct and indirect impact on the environment. Images of sea life dying from plastic ingestion and sea birds snared by masks have made the rounds on the internet and social media. It generated concerned conversations and mobilised well-meaning (albeit sporadic) actions. However, what would it take to sustainably mitigate and reverse the scourge of unbridled waste?
The waste hierarchy prescribes various methods to manage waste including reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling. Apart from being able to rehabilitate our ecology, waste management presents social business opportunities that could be commercially compelling.
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