Awareness in reducing waste through recycling and reuse is still low among Malaysians, said Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
He said only 15 per cent of waste was recycled despite the government introducing the waste segregation programme.
Thus, he said, there was a need to change the people’s lifestyle and mindset in reducing consumption and increase recycling to conserve the environment.
Speaking to reporters after attending a briefing at the Bukit Tagar sanitary landfill in Bestari Jaya near here today, he said there was a need to educate the people on the importance of recycling waste.
Malaysians should follow the footsteps of people in developed nations where recycling had become a way of life, he said, adding that Germany had a 62 per cent recycling rate; Austria, 68 per cent; Taiwan, 60 per cent and Singapore, 59 per cent.
The government introduced the waste separation programme on Sept 1 last year, requiring all households and business owners in two federal territories and seven states to separate their waste between recyclables and non-recyclables.
Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya as well as Johor, Pahang, Selangor, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Perlis are involved in the initiative.
From 1 June, the government will implement the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) whereby those who fail to follow the requirements under the law will be penalised.
Abdul Rahman said the amount of waste generated by the people was worrying the ministry as the National Solid Waste Management Department needed at least RM2 billion yearly to manage solid waste and undertake public cleaning in the federal territories and the states.
He said the government would diversify the method of managing waste in the country including by introducing more incinerators besides utilising sanitary landfills to dispose waste.
On the the government’s move to increase the levy on foreign workers in the construction sector from RM1,250 to RM2,500 effective Feb 1, Abdul Rahman said the move would have an impact on the housing sector besides the services and plantation sectors.
“The issue of levy is not settled yet as there is room to manoeuvre,” he said.