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  Straits Times Forum 9 Nov 07
Make recycling a must, fine those who don't
Letter from Muhammad Hazique Salahudin

Straits Times 31 Oct 07
Recycle or face fines, Malaysians warned
All residents will soon have to sort out recyclable waste and prepare it for collection
By Hazlin Hassan

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIANS have failed to recycle voluntarily, so the government is taking tougher action. They will soon face a stiff fine - of up to RM1,000 (S$430) - if they still do not do so.

Dr Nadzri Yahya, who heads the newly created Department of National Solid Waste Management, told The Straits Times the measure may be implemented by the first quarter of next year.

This is because the government wants the tough new measure to be preceded by a public awareness campaign to drive home the green message.

Housing and Local Government Minister Ong Ka Ting has noted that Malaysians throw out enough rubbish to fill both 88-storey columns of Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers in just nine days.

And although nearly half of that could be recycled, annually only 16 per cent actually is. This, seven years after a campaign aimed at ensuring that at least 21 per cent of waste was recycled was introduced.

Malaysia is doing dismally in this regard compared with other countries such as Singapore, where the recycling rate was about 55 per cent as of July 2005, with a 60 per cent target set for 2010.

The government in August decided it was time to take a harder line. It introduced a law requiring all citizens to take responsibility for sorting out their recyclable waste and preparing it for collection. They face fines if they fail to do so.

Explaining the need for the new approach, Dr Nadzri, who was responsible for pushing the law, said: 'The response to the voluntary recycling programme has been dismal.'

Under the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Bill, the government is taking over responsibility for dealing with solid waste and public cleansing management from the local authorities.

It will introduce a system where recyclables will be collected from households.

Two bins will be provided, one for recyclables and the other for non-recyclables.

And anyone who fails to sort out his rubbish will be fined.

The government will not let anyone make the excuse that he did not know about the need to go green either.

Datuk Seri Ong has described his countrymen's capacity to produce waste as 'frightening'.

Last year, households generated about 19,000 tonnes of solid waste a day, and this is expected to reach 30,000 tonnes a day in 2020.

'It is all happy buying and happy throwing for Malaysians,' Datuk Seri Ong said in remarks published by the New Straits Times in June.

Straits Times Forum 9 Nov 07
Make recycling a must, fine those who don't
Letter from Muhammad Hazique Salahudin

I REFER to the article, 'Recycle or face fines, Malaysians warned' (ST, Oct 31). The problem Malaysians face is similar to ours, and much can be learnt from their actions.

Singapore is a First World country. Undoubtedly, we are doing much to improve our environment. Some measures taken include the use of catalytic converters in cars and constructing energy-efficient buildings.

However, the problem of solid waste needs to be addressed further. Currently we dump our waste offshore at Pulau Semakau but what will happen when the landfill is full in 2040?

One effective way, as South Korea has shown, is to recycle. Unfortunately, recycling is not widely practised here, despite government efforts to promote it.

To encourage recycling, we can take a leaf out of Korea's book. Fines are one of the most effective methods to encourage good habits and, over time, the unwanted behaviour would disappear and the people will practise what is encouraged naturally.

This has been proven to be true in Singapore. We have curbed problems of illegal parking, smoking and dumping via fines.

If we make recycling mandatory and impose fines on those who do not do so, Singaporeans would become accustomed to recycling in the near future.

Should imposing fines be seen as too radical a move, further promotion of recycling could be undertaken, through placing more recycling bins around an estate. Currently, in Choa Chu Kang, there is only one bin per precinct. This is not practical as residents have to walk a distance just to recycle their things. A bin should be placed at every block.

Secondly, campaigns such as the Bring Your Own Bag day should be extended, to, say, a week. By extending the period, it will soon become a habit with shoppers to use reusable bags. This will save tonnes of plastic bags each month.

As a world-class city, the Government has to do more to promote environmental-friendliness.

Related articles in Singapore: reduce, reuse, recycle
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