Waste segregation awareness has increased over time, however level of segregation and collection of segregated waste is still low. Starting September 2015, Malaysia has made it mandatory to separate waste-at-source in the states of Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis and in the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. Under the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act 2007 (Act 672), the implementation of the new rule is being rolled-out in stages.
Based on SWCorp statistics, a total of 3,340,845.92 tonnes of waste ended up in 161 landfills in 2015 (See: http://nehapmalaysia.moh.gov.my/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Paper-2-Solid-Waste.pdf). Out of the 161 landfills in Malaysia, only 14 are sanitized landfills. It is estimated that Malaysian households produce 38,000 tonnes of waste per day (Compendium of Environment Statistics Malaysia, 2016). In Kuala Lumpur, the average domestic waste per household is 0.8kg per person per day or 1,600 tonnes for a city with a population of two million (Compendium of Environment Statistics Malaysia, 2016)).
Even though Malaysia has many solid waste disposal sites, it is not enough to accommodate the amount of garbage that we produce. The Compendium of Environment Statistics Malaysia revealed that the projected waste generation by urban population today threatens to exceed government's projected waste production of 30,000 tonnes daily by 2020.
Something has to be done before Malaysia runs out of space to store its garbage. Hence, why the compulsory separation of waste at source comes into play.
Beyond Bins is a community-wide recycling initiative, which provides recycling facilities and weekly collection for participating communities. For 6-months, at Bandar Bukit Raja (BBR), we adapted the Beyond Bins pilot project, for a self-sustainable recycling initiative model. This initiative conforms with Sime Darby Property’s aim to reduce general waste by 20% in all townships and business units. The pilot test was conducted at BBR, from November 2016 to April 2017. Residents from 21 residential areas within BBR Township participated in this program.
Prior to the project implementation, we conducted two briefing sessions with Residents Association (RA) leaders, informing them about the project’s goals and specific plans. RAs were consulted before the placement of the recycling stations to ensure communites buy-in into the project.
Upon prior engagement, a tent was set up beside the guard houses at each residential area to ensure continuous monitoring. Each tent had 3 bins (1 for paper, 1 for plastic, 1 for cans), a notice board and Infographics on recycling.
Infographics were placed at each tent to inspire and convince why residents should recycle and how it is going to benefit them. Besides that, the top 10 collectors of recyclables were announced monthly, through a leaderboard placed at the recycling stations.
We partnered with iCycle Malaysia to assist us with weekly comprehensive collection of recyclables. Collections of recyclables were conducted weekly, where the type and amount of recyclables collected at each RA was recorded. Throughout the project duration, we collected 11 tonnes of recyclables. Each month, Biji-biji Initiative reported back to SDP with the amount of recyclables collected. At the end of the project, we identified the average amount of recyclables collection needed to make this initiative economically viable.
Using WhatsApp as a communication platform, a constant communication channel was established. All 21 residential areas’ representatives were in communication with the Biji-biji team, throughout the 6 months period, answering queries, troubleshooting arising issues and concerns, sharing project updates and building relationship with the members of community.
Total amount of recyclables collected during pilot project, from Nov 2016 to April 2017. Materials collected for recycling ranged from: aluminium can, mixed plastic, hard plastic, plastic bags, plastic bottle, fridge, washing machine, monitors, CPU, printer, scanner, hard disk, laptop, television, CD/DVD, Polystyrene, clothes, textiles, wires, cables, electrical items, scrap metal, premium metal, iron can, composite, newspaper, black & white paper, mixed paper, cardboard, books/magazine, beverage carton, glass bottles, car battery and dry cell batteries.
To increase community engagement, the campaign also rolled out competitions; rewarding the top 10 RAs that collected the largest amount of recyclables monthly, and the top three largest overall collectors with grand prizes.
An important criterion of this pilot project is to find out whether this community-wide recycling initiative can be self-sustainable. Our waste management partner, iCycle Malaysia, paid residents for the recyclables collected by them. The incentives were not distributed to individual residents, but to the resident association. This inspired resident associations to take a larger role in recycling and in advocating for it among residents.
As part of community engagement activities aimed at raising awareness and increasing participation level in the recycling program, upcycling workshops and community art installation building sessions were conducted each month. With “Common Waste Materials” as theme, the community engagement sessions used common waste materials in the workshops and building of art installations.
For the monthly programming conducted as part of community engagement activities, we ensure that we run sustainable events. For lunch, we catered food from The Picha Project, a social enterprise providing inclusive economic opportunities to refugee communities. Besides that, we recycled all recyclables generated from the activities and composted food waste generated from served lunch. We used reusable plates, cups and cutlery to reduce waste.
Currently Malaysian landfills are filling up fast. In these landfills, we find valuable recoverable recyclables such as paper, plastic, metal, fabric, e-waste, glass and batteries. All these materials, if recovered, can be injected back into our economy. This will create a circular economy, reduce the number of landfills, increase resource efficiency, reduce extraction of new materials - in short will lead to a more sustainable environment and economy. In playing a role, the township manage to channel away 11,077 KG of recyclables away from going to a landfill.
BBR community came together to build 4 waste art installation pieces featured in the BBR Sales Gallery. These sessions while equipping them with basic skills, also taught them how to see waste as valuable materials. Besides that, it gave the community an opportunity to come together and have good times together.
Within the 6-months pilot program with 21 residential area, we estimated that 3,589 household was involved in this recycling initiative.
We conducted 4 upcycling workshop sessions, teaching basic woodworking, urban gardening, and basic electrical skills. Participants learnt how to make furniture pieces from pallet woods, vertical garden from plastic bottles, and lamps from detergent bottles.