Towards Zero Waste in Penang – The Journey Continues

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has leveraged the existing #waste segregation-at-source policy in the state of Penang, which has been enforced since the 1st June 2017. The policy was limited to separation and collection of dry and clean recyclables such as paper, plastic, glass, aluminium cans, and metals, among others.
There is still room for much improvement though, as organic waste, is collected twice a week and discarded as general waste.
Therefore, CAP has focused on recovering organic waste from the residual waste by introducing various methods of composting at the household level. Starting in 2017, CAP partnered with schools and residential complexes in Penang to introduce various types of composting methods. CAP also worked closely with several schools to manage garden waste, kitchen waste, and food waste in their schools.
Up until today, these activities have been undertaken whenever possible – albeit the restrictions due to the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, with schools closures, controls on holding public events and travel restrictions by the government.
CAP has repeatedly urged the state government to stay on course towards its zero waste goals. With Penang achieving a record-high 43% recycling rate in 2018, and 61 % in 2019, the state has great potential in reaching even higher waste diversion and reduction targets.
Main highlights in Penang’s zero waste journey:
2010: Plastic bag levy for all plastic bags distributed by supermarkets and shopping centres. From 1st January 2021, this levy has been upped to RM1 (0.2 EUR) on peak shopping days, Thursdays to Sundays, while no plastic bags would be sold on other days. Previously the levy had been RM 0.2 (0.041 EUR).
2014: Ban on polystyrene/styrofoam food containers used for take-aways.
2016: Policy for segregation of waste at source is approved.
2017: Segregation of waste at source is enforced and the recycling rate goes up from 39.65% in 2015 to 43.25% in 2018, and further to 61 % in 2019. Moreover, waste generation per capita is reduced from 1.6 kg in 2016 to 1.2 kg in 2017. All these indicate a positive mindset towards recycling.
2018: Segregation of food waste in restaurants, hotels, and factory canteens.
October 2018: “Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030”, launched at federal level. The vision of this Roadmap is to take a phased, evidence-based and holistic approach by involving all stakeholders in jointly addressing single-use plastics pollution in Malaysia.
November 2020: All states in Malaysia express support for the implementation of the “No Plastic Bag” campaign in a bid to increase appreciation of the “green lifestyle” among Malaysians.
~ Excerpts from the report “European waste trade impacts on Malaysia’s zero waste future”