Making Recycling Efforts More Accessible

By Michelle Ng

The Movement Control Order has forced a lot of us to pivot. We must adapt well to survive in these trying times. Likewise with my office.

Before we begin the year, my office will sit down together with community leaders to plan what we’d want to achieve. This way, we keep each other accountable. As you can imagine, Covid-19 and the MCO derailed a lot of our plans. So we had to go back to the drawing board.

There were a few things we had to consider in our plans:- (1) we do not know how long we’d have to live with Covid-19; (2) what then are changes that we can create whilst Subangites reduce movement and observe physical distancing?; (3) what are the long term investments we should act on now, which would check off multiple objectives?

And we found the answer: at-source recycling.

This is the problem statement: Council is always looking for ways to save money. Money saved will translate into meaningful expenditure e.g. infrastructure, community development etc. We are spending too much money on tipping fees – RM36/ton. At the same time, we found out that through recycling, MPSJ had in 2019 saved about RM2million via 55,000tons of recyclable materials collected.

To solve these problems, my office invested into producing reusable, washable recycling bags made out of PP woven material. The idea was that each household would get 3 bags – one for plastic, another for metal and the last one for paper. The cost for each bag was RM3.50 per piece.

We found a community who was willing to work with my office – USJ 5 Watch, which is the Residents’ Association for USJ5/1 & 5/2. This community has a total of 784 houses.

The way it works is this – having received the bags, resident begins collecting recyclable materials. They then place the bags outside their houses on a designated day for collection. A contractor is engaged to come by once a week. After collection, the bags are brought back in, and the contractor reports the weight of recyclable materials back to Council. This is important to determine impact.

Aside from solving the said problem, we are able to (1) make recycling more accessible, hence increasing its rate; (2) solve the problem of dumping in recycling centres, and (3) make this world a greener place for future generations.

Our dream is to have this system implemented in the entire Subang Jaya.