Malaysia seeks Netherlands’ waste management expertise

We can learn from their trial and error, so that we can fast-track to reach the advanced level, says minister


THE government is expected to seek expertise from the Netherlands as part of the efforts to improve and enhance Malaysia’s waste management system.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin (picture) said the ministry will be meeting with the Netherlands’ embassy to develop a relationship that would expedite the plan.

“Their ambassador is still new. I will have to engage with the embassy to find out how we can develop this working relationship with the Netherlands.

“What’s interesting is that the Netherlands imports rubbish plastics and not clean plastics like (the ones) we import, and they manage to do it very well because of their procedures.

“They are very advanced, while we are still at the introductory stage. Therefore, we can learn from their trial and error, so that we can fast-track to reach that level,” she told reporters after the Sustainable Waste Management Seminar that was held at the International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Zuraida said Malaysia still has to tackle the basic challenge of instilling good practices among the communities such as throwing their trash into the right can, as well as separating them at source.

She said such habits have been introduced, but the initiatives have not been taken seriously by Malaysians, which have also hampered the country’s advancement in waste management.

“We are going to have engagement programmes with the community. We have policies and action plans, but they are not moving because the people are not supporting them.

“So now, we have to go down to the grassroot to ensure that they are involved and they will make it as part of their culture, make it in their blood, to throw rubbish in the rubbish can,” Zuraida said.

She added that she was impressed by various countries that she visited in regard to waste management as they have been incorporating waste management into their lives for many years.

She cited Adelaide, Australia, as an example where separating waste at source has been practiced for 40 years.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, began good waste management practices 35 years ago.

“I wonder where Malaysia was then. This is something we have to catch up very fast.

“During the 80s, when the economy was vibrant in Malaysia, I think we did not put enough attention with regard to waste management. We could have done that 20 years ago, we could have been better now, but it’s never too late,” Zuraidah said.

The ministry has recently announced the “Trash to Cash” campaign which is an initiative to promote cleanliness within communities.

Zuraida said the pilot project has been conducted in Ampang which covers 24 municipal councillors.

The project in Ampang is expected to be completed by year-end, before the project is expanded nationwide.

“It’s good because when we launched it, we got the community to be involved. At the end of the programme, they get to turn their trash into money on the spot.

“Now they have done six zones, so there are 18 more zones to go. After they have completed all, we can look into it and apply to other municipalities as well,” added Zuraida.

The ministry recently announced a new plastic recycling policy to improve plastic waste management that can help boost the country’s economy.

Zuraida has said the policy would be developed comprehensively and would obtain inputs from the Malaysian Plastics Recycling Industry White Paper.