Addressing plastic pollution at the community level through waste segregation at the source
Penang, Malaysia’s second smallest state, faces significant challenges in solid waste management due to limited land availability. In 2019, approximately 2,220 metric tons of waste per day –the equivalent of 2.3kg of waste generated per person per day, was sent to the Pulau Burung Landfill, which is the only landfill in Penang. Penang has implemented the Waste Segregation at Source (WSAS) Policy in 2016 in order to reduce the number of waste bound for the landfill. In addition to the WSAS policy, Penang also implemented the total ban on polystyrene packaging, No Plastic Bag Day Campaign, and No Single-use Plastic Campaign.
To improve the diversion plastic waste from landfill, PGC and the Seberang Perai City Council has conducted a pilot project with aims to reduce the usage of single-use plastic, promote waste segregation at source, increase the recovery of plastic, and encourage the circular economy models and solution.
The pilot project focuses on two locations: Taman Bagan Lalang and Kampung Permatang Nibong. The project introduces the Planting Green Community (PGC) Model, which is used as a guide in the implementation of long-term behavioural changes, focusing on bottom-up action. Such changes need to be driven by the community in partnership with and support from top-down (local government) resourcing, facilitation and coordination. This has been achieved through educational action, such as the introduction of a mini plastic recycling machine, workshop and training, family-based education programmes including the ‘No Single-Use Plastic (NSUP) Game, Plastic-licious and Snap and Win. These programmes sought to raise public awareness efforts into practicing circular actions and increase recycling rates in the community.