Public Perception Of Penang Residents Towards Waste Separation At Source And Recycling Activities

Statement by Chow Kon Yeow, Penang Exco member for Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation and Vice-Chairman of Penang Green Council on 11 Nov 2015:

Penang Green Council (PGC Strategies Sdn Bhd) has carried out a study on the public perception of Penang residents towards waste separation at source and recycling activities from 29 July 2015 till 29 September 2015. This study aimed to gather feedbacks from questionnaire distributed at shopping malls, wet markets, schools and also through online survey.

A total of 1,484 respondents have responded to the survey. Analysis results show that majority of the respondents understood the 3R concept and practice it in their daily lives. Most of the respondents separate recyclable items such as paper (80.20%), newspaper (76.9%), however, the rate for electronic waste is lower at 35%. 

Regarding the practice of 3R to reduce waste, the result illustrates that the implementation of “No Free Plastic Bag Day” since 6th July 2009 is considered successful based on 80.7% of the respondents who brought along their own bags for shopping.

Apart from this, the study also found that only 25.1% of the respondents practice food waste composting. Two reasons identified are not having enough space for composting activity (56.5%) and the lack of knowledge on how to compost (49.4%).

The majority of respondents (86.5%) supported that law to be enforced to increase recycling rate in Penang. Majority of the respondents believe more people will separate their waste if the laws are enforced. We believe that in general Penang residents are supportive of the Penang Government’s vision of mandatory waste segregation at source in June 2016.

In Penang, a total of 656,090 Tonnes of waste were generated in 2014 and an average of 1,700 – 1,800 Tonnes of waste are send to Pulau Burung landfill every day. It costs between RM100 and RM120 to collect, transport and treat a tonne of waste. The estimated landfill life span is 42 years if it is equipped with the Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) and could last for 60 years if food waste converter is equipped as well.

Respondents were asked to suggest options for waste management system in Penang when the Pulau Burung Landfill reached its lifespan. 70.4% of the respondents suggested the strengthen of waste segregation at source/3R policies and practices, 66.3% technologies such as Waste-To– Energy Technology in Pulau Burung Landfill as an option, only 35.70% suggested of a new sanitary landfill in Penang.  

The result from this survey will be taken into consideration during the policy making process of the mandatory waste segregation at source. In general, waste segregation at source and 3R practices can be further strengthened with strong co-operation from all stakeholders especially the government, private sector, education institution, NGO and the community.

Chow Kon Yeow