Food Waste Awareness High But Action Sadly Lacking

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians love their food but unfortunately, many have no qualms about wasting it.
Food waste makes up half of the 33,000 tonnes of solid waste generated every day, according to the national solid waste management department (JPSPN).
A look at discarded food would show 10-15% is untouched and still edible.
Food wastage awareness has increased over time but specific waste treatment is still low in households, according to waste management specialist Theng Lee Chong.
He said this was because the quality of food waste from households was inconsistent. Therefore, it is not easy to segregate the waste according to their type.
“As a result, most of the food waste is disposed of at the landfill,” Theng told FMT.
When we talk about landfills, cost comes to mind.
While Theng believes food waste could be turned into fertiliser, he said it was not economically viable as the operational cost would be more than the revenue from the product.
He added that in Malaysia, the halal and haram issue also came into play when dealing with the treatment of food waste.
“If we do composting of food waste from mixed sources, can we give an assurance that the fertiliser or compost produced is acceptable to produce edible fruits or vegetables?
“This is still a big challenge for food waste treatment on a larger scale in Malaysia,” Theng said.
It all comes down to Malaysians trying to change our attitude and stop being wasteful whenever we eat, especially during Ramadan, when there are a lot of buka puasa (breaking of fast) events.
“Malaysians have been staying in our comfort zone for too long.
“We have mamak restaurants that are open 24 hours. To keep food wastage in check, Malaysians need to be educated from early childhood.”
Theng said Malaysia had already prepared a National Strategic Plan for Food Waste Management, with guidelines on proper food waste treatment.
“This is common in many developed countries. In Japan, it is called the Food Recycling Law,” he said.
Malaysia has an act on mandatory separation of waste at source since September 2015.
The implementation of the new rule is being done in stages under the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act 2007 (Act 672).
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