Malaysia’s Plastic Waste Issues Everyone Should Know
Malaysia is the global leader in terms of plastics manufacturing with an industry valued at 30 billion Ringgit aside from importing plastic waste from other countries. It has been struggling with the problem of plastic pollution for a long period of time. In the past few years, we have seen a significant reduction in the use of disposable plastic bags in shops and/or supermarkets. However, many small convenience stores or shops continuously give out plastic bags to their customers without thinking about the impact on our environment. The sight of clogged-up drains and landfills brimming with these pollutants is a reminder that everyone especially the government needs to act against our plastic usage.
According to The Rakyat Post, (1) it stated that the percentage of plastic in solid wastes generated in Malaysia is second only to the Philippines among Asian countries. “A 2019 research report conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) showed that Malaysia ranks second in Asia for annual per capita plastic use (2). At 16.78kg per person, Malaysia outranks much larger nations including China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam in overall generated waste”. Malaysia is one of the largest plastic production industries globally, exporting resins valued at RM30 billion in 2016 to plastic producers around the world if compared to over 1,300 world plastic manufacturers. (3) “Plastic packaging takes up the biggest market share of plastic at 40% in 2008 and steadily increased over a decade to an eye-watering 48% in 2018.”
“(4) The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states that single-use plastics designed for immediate disposal after use – including grocery bags, containers, and bottles – are often discarded within the same year of production.” Plastic does not decompose which means all plastics in our environment is still with us. All the plastics we have made and thrown away over time continue to affect our earth in one form or another! Plastic waste contains flame retardants, and heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, can accumulate in the soil and eventually pollute local waterways or even the ocean. Thus, the ingestion of marine organisms by humans may cause cardiovascular diseases, reproductive abnormalities, and many more.
If current plastic consumption continues, it is estimated that there will be 12,000 million metric tons of plastic waste on earth by 2050. Malaysia’s plastic problem is getting worse where we consumed 148,000 tons of plastic packaging for food. The awareness of recycling among Malaysians has been rising yearly, however, the recycling rate is still low compared to other countries which are recorded at 28%. So, there’s a must for each party to take part in this environmental issue. For example, (5) Nestle Malaysia has marked a new milestone in its efforts to drive plastic waste collection and recycling, with today's signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Alam Flora Environmental Solutions Sdn Bhd. Nestle’s new initiative was conducted in four large cities within 15 townships in the Klang Valley area. The first phase of this recycling campaign would benefit over 10,000 landed housing residents at the beginning of March. On top of that, the second phase is targeted to start in May 2022 aimed at 9,000 residents living in condos or apartments.
Did you know? Recycling saves over 700 million tons in carbon dioxide emissions across the globe. We have the responsibility to take care of our living place and its natural resources as well as preserve the ecosystems and biodiversity for future generations. All of us can make a difference, so let’s protect our planet and start recycling now!