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Waste Sector Roundtable Series: Session 3: Government and Policymakers

Updated: May 22, 2023

Dr Kalanithi Nesaretnam, co-founder of CGM in her opening remarks stated that in the first roundtable the focus was on how corporates and consumers’ managed their waste. In the second session, solutions to resolving waste issues in the community were discussed, accompanied by the idea of smart cities.

In this final session, the panellists and moderator had that important conversation on how we can all work together for all of Government and whole of society approach.

Dr Kala went on to state that this month, the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to adopt a landmark resolution that acknowledges a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is, in fact, a human right. This decision came at a very critical time when the impact of humanity on the environment is becoming increasingly clear. As for us, we can only hope that it achieves its desired aim to protect our environment and the people that have most to lose from a changing climate.

Mr BK Sinha in his opening remarks mentioned that data collection helps to structure an impact driven initiative. With the access to timely and accurate data, we can make informed decisions on plans to move forward with an idea, and to obtain financial support.

Puan Margaret Kuyoh, from KPKT mentioned that one of KPKT’s functions is to regulate and oversee solid waste management and public cleansing matters. For the past decade, Malaysia has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve solid waste and public cleansing matters through enactment of acts.

In the 12th Malaysian Plan (RMK 12) 2021 - 2025 a comprehensive development plan has been structured to ensure that the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are met. Theme 3 of RMK 12 in advancing sustainability will adopt the concept of circular economy to address the challenge in balancing socio-economic development and environmental sustainability. There are 7 long-term strategies that are established from identifying the low hanging fruits to move towards a more sustainable circular economy model:

  • Establishment of a national platform called the Circular Economy National Council in 2022 to address challenges and issues related to circular economy implementation in Malaysia.

  • The ministry will continue to improve the Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) programme in 2022 as they recognise its importance, eg: SWCorp’s numerous programmes like KOSIS, separation at source (SAS) and the 3R campaigns. SWCorp is also working with various NGOs to conduct CEPA programmes.

  • Act 672 is currently in the process of being reviewed and amended to enhance the implementation of circular economy initiatives in waste management

  • To establish an Integrated Waste Treatment Facility (IWTF)

  • The guideline for the development of Waste Eco Park has been finalized and will be available as a reference for developers, state government and other agencies who are interested.

  • A Circular Economy Blueprint for Solid Waste in 2024.

  • The implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Ms Pauline Goh of MAREA Malaysian Recycling Alliance Berhad informed that they were a platform for recovery of post-consumer packaging. She agreed with the need to work with the whole industry i) from consumers to separate their waste, ii) from the waste sector to collect waste from households and iii) recyclers to recycle different types of packaging. MAREA has established collaboration with KASA for the plastic sustainable roadmap 2021-2030 and KPKT in setting up a circular economy council. KPKT has ensured that over the next three years, their focus on circular economy will be boosted by strengthening partnerships with MAREA on EPR, whilst working closely with UNEP to develop a food waste index for Malaysia.

En Azlan Yacob, from Smart Community Segambut, LA21, was of the opinion that building the capacity of communities to be receptive to a sustainable lifestyle is important. They pursued green initiatives in stages to ease behavioural changes. For instance, they have started with composting rings for coffee waste near TTDI urban cafes. The next step is to add plant-based food waste in these composts. Then they will test adding in meat and bones. This process allows the efficient use of funding too.

He added that they have an application that rewards people with redeemable coupons at certain places based on the carbon reduction they contributed through composting.. The idea of decentralising waste management systems was brought up in this session. A suggestion whereby if waste could be treated closest to the sources as possible, many people can be empowered to become waste-to-wealth developers. Furthermore, logistics challenges will no longer be a huge issue, and cost can be saved since there will be no need to establish many large and heavy infrastructure.

Recommendations from the webinar:

  • Landfill tax and waste subsidy abolishment in Malaysia

During the session, a question was raised regarding implementing landfill tax in Malaysia. The reasoning for this was so that the revenue collected would be able to fund green initiatives. In the same question, a suggestion to abolish waste subsidies was also brought up to encourage people not to be wasteful and to not take waste management services for granted.

  • Providing support for concessionaires

KPKT informed that the concessionaires are moving towards adopting a circular economy by helping recycling through providing services and bins. Ms Pauline Goh suggested to explore ways on supporting the concessionaires to ensure that all recyclables from household were properly collected and sorted. A concern was brought up regarding the concessionaires potentially not attaining sufficient pay from the reduced garbage collected due to the adoption of a circular economy. However, the moderator suggested that there may be ways for the government and MAREA to work together with the concessionaires to handle dry waste and to explore alternative income through different activities.

  • Embrace innovation

Embracing innovation would have the power of getting more people involved quickly without fearing change. Mr Azlan informed that it is extremely important for us to start developing pathways for entrepreneurs to follow in order to be more sustainable.

In her final remarks Dr Kala said that more dialogues and presentation to Government is needed for effective policy making and implementation by everyone.

Click for the recordings and speaker bios.


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