KDEB WASTE MANAGEMENT’S CALL TO ACTION
Food waste is an ever-growing problem that affects various aspects of society, including the economy, environment, and social welfare. Addressing food waste requires a holistic approach that involves efforts from multiple stakeholders, including governments, businesses, consumers, and civil society. Dato’ Ramli Tahir, Managing Director of Selangor’s premier waste operator, KDEB Waste Management (KDEBWM), spoke to International Business Review explores the reasons behind the increase and its consequences, as well as potential solutions to mitigate this issue.
A Bizarre Irony
Oddly enough, this issue seems to be the most prevalent in the context of Ramadan. What is supposed to be the period to practice restraint and patience for Malaysia’s predominantly Muslim community, has somehow consistently generated the most waste in the year. According to KDEBWM, there has been a 48 percent increase in food waste particularly in Ramadan Bazaars – popular for its seasonal prepared food, and other culinary delights. However, these bustling markets often generate a significant amount of waste, including food scraps, packaging materials, and other debris, which can have negative environmental, social, and economic impacts.
Food waste in Ramadan Bazaars in Selangor alone has reached between 70 and 73 tonnes on a daily basis, compared to the daily 50.78 tonnes generated last year. Dato’ Ramli also attributed the rise to a number of factors at play. One of which is that there is a significant increase of business plots operating in the Klang Municipal Council. One thing can lead to another as the sudden boom of business can result in overproduction of food, poor inventory management and a general lack of planning on how to dispose of their waste.
But it’s not just Ramadan Bazaars that are at fault. Depending on the place and context, food waste produced during this holy month come from a variety of sources. This would include hotels, buffets and even restaurants in general that caters to Ramadan diners.
Managing the Spill
Once collected, these waste would often end up in a landfill, where it is destined to produce methane and could potentially haunt the environment with needless pollution. The best way to tackle this complication is to nip the issue in the bud.
“I believe with better planning from everyone involved, from consumers to vendors, we would see a turnaround in this trend and reduce this ongoing food waste problem. We must do better,” said Dato’ Ramli. Indeed, a more robust plan of action is necessary such as having a realistic sales target, purchasing only what is need and storing food properly.
Overall, it is important to take a holistic approach to reducing waste during Ramadan, which includes promoting responsible consumption, encouraging sustainable practices, and implementing efficient waste management strategies. These would include the 3Rs – reducing, reusing, and recycling. Vendors and consumers alike should avoid using single use packaging such as disposable containers and plastic bags and instead use reusable ones.
Reusing food waste as composting means is also a great way to reduce waste footprint in landfills while also providing valuable nutrients to plants. Considering the low bar of entry, any individual can pick up composting fairly easily to produce their own from excess food. KDEBWM highly encourages the public who already have green thumbs can save cost on chemical fertilisers on top of playing their role in reducing food waste.
Similarly, through anaerobic digestion, food waste can also be converted into fertiliser and even biogas which can be used to generate electricity and heat. Lastly, certain types of foods can also be recycled to be used in industrial process such as the production of biofuels or enzymes for industrial use.
By adopting these practices, Dato’ Ramli is confident that the people of Selangor can reduce their impact on the environment, save resources, and help to create a more sustainable future. A better Selangor where Ramadan period generates the least amount of food waste compared to normal months.