Door-to-door campaign to educate consumers about waste segregation more effective than media blitz, SWCorp says

SWCorp chief executive officer Datuk AB Rahim Md Noor says the roll-out of the national waste segregation programme comes into effect on September 1. — Picture by Choo Choy May
SWCorp chief executive officer Datuk AB Rahim Md Noor says the roll-out of the national waste segregation programme comes into effect on September 1. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 ― With just about a week to go before the roll-out of the national waste segregation programme, the semi-government body in charge does not seem worried even though only 2.8 per cent of the more than two million households affected have been “engaged.”

SWCorp chief executive officer Datuk AB Rahim Md Noor said although the law comes into effect on September 1, it will only implement “friendly enforcement” where warning letters will be sent to those who do not separate their waste accordingly.

From next month, households in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Pahang, Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Perlis and Kedah have to separate their waste according to paper, plastic, other recyclables and whatever else remains.

General waste will be picked up twice a week while the recyclable items ― along with bulky, as well as garden waste ― will be picked up on a third day, in plastic bags or other appropriate containers.

The state governments and two federal territories are the only ones that agreed to implement the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Act 2007 (Act 672), in a joint effort with the federal government. Several councils in Selangor meanwhile have also started a similar programme.

A maximum fine of RM1,000 will only be implemented from June 1, 2016 onwards.

“Preparations are ongoing because educating the public will take a long time... that is why we’ve started a few months ago, telling the people that they have to do this.

“It has now come to the stage where we won’t enforce but from September 1, they will have to start doing it.

“We have advertised on the radio, we will have more in the newspapers after September,” he told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.

The former higher education secretary-general said after September 1, SWCorp will educate the households affected in a more detailed manner.

So far, only 57,727 households from all the territories and states were briefed on the programme, with almost two million more to go.

SWCorp has about 530 officers carrying out the door-to-door programme, he added.

He said implementing this programme will not be as simple as implementing the goods and services tax (GST) as they need to explain to each household in person. It was reported that RM17 million was spent on the GST campaign since last December before it was implemented on April 1 this year.

In comparison, the Department of National Solid Waste Management (JPSPN) under the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry said RM5.3 million has been allocated for the waste segregation campaign which began early this year and will be intensified from September 1 onwards.

AB Rahim said the campaigning budget from the ministry has been sufficient but there are too many last minute changes to the final products.

“We have done it already but the ministry said we have to streamline, so we readjusted... it takes time, for example the storyboard, they said it could be better.

“But we are not worried because even if the campaign starts in September in a big way, we still have nine months to go. Even if we do it early, it’s costly,” he said.


He said the three concession companies, Alam Flora Sdn Bhd for KL, Putrajaya and Pahang; Environment Idaman Sdn Bhd for Kedah and Perlis, and SWM Environment Sdn Bhd for Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor will notify SWCorp of households that do not segregate their waste accordingly.

He added that the exact mechanism has not been finalised yet but the concessionaires will “leave a sticker somewhere” as well as not collect the waste.

He said in Putrajaya, where a pilot project has been ongoing, some of the residents chose not to adhere to the law.

“The issue is actually the people themselves do not want to follow but some people who have worked and lived overseas, they really like it. They said we are late in fact.

“That’s why we have the education processes that are sufficient, don’t worry.

“If they arrogantly do not want to follow, then we will take action,” he said.

Non-landed properties

AB Rahim said the enforcement at non-landed properties such as condominiums and low-cost flats will come under the responsibility of the respective joint management bodies (JMB).

“JMB will issue the compound, so they will have to educate the residents and have local rules.

“Don’t worry, we will go to each JMB and explain,” he said, but added so far, SWCorp has yet to meet with any of them.

He added that SWCorp will spend more time educating residents at non-landed properties as the enforcement and arrangement there is more complicated.

The Urban Well Being, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan recently told Malay Mail Online that concessionaires will provide additional bins to non-landed properties at collection points, “in stages.”

Non-profitable recyclable items

He said SWCorp is still negotiating with companies that recycle glass bottles as they will not take it if the volume is too little.

When asked if he has a target as to how many glass bottles should be collected for companies to recycle, there was no answer.

“I think this is a complicated issue, but if the amount is big, some industry will take it. Now it’s too little, so not profitable, when there is a lot, some industry will pick up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) President Datuk Lim Kok Boon pointed out that almost 100 per cent of all plastic waste can be recycled as long as there is a proper waste infrastructure, such as for disposal, collection and segregation.

Although it is not mandatory to clean out recyclable items under this new programme, Lim said it would be better if the public can adopt the practice of cleaning up used plastic items so that they can become more valuable in terms of resource recovery.

He said currently, most household plastic waste is contaminated as they are thrown together with food waste, rendering about 10 per cent of them ending in landfills.

According to JPSPN, Malaysia imports 25,000 tonnes of plastics to be recycled monthly.

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