VII. ISSUES AND PROBLEMS: SOME POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
J. Solid waste management
Malaysia has invested relatively little in solid waste management to date, and current methods tend not to recover costs. Recycling is limited to rag pickers in the informal sector. Newer solid waste management approaches can be explored with collaboration from the private sector and community groups. Contracting out the management of transfer stations, treatment plants, landfills and special industrial waste facilities are options that City Hall of Kuala Lumpur must explore further. However, the regulatory and monitoring functions of City Hall officials should be further enhanced to ensure that the privatized services are effectively delivered. There is an urgent need for improved planning and coordination of incineration, dumping, composting and re-use of waste materials. The separate collection of organic waste, used batteries, certain chemical wastes, tins, glass, textiles and paper should be more aggressively implemented. Meanwhile, new pollution control standards should be imposed on waste incineration and dumping.
The construction industry should be made to focus explicit attention on the environmental impact of building methods and products, with an eye towards the disposal of unwanted material. Contractors must be persuaded to recycle as much construction and demolition waste as possible and to raise awareness of environmental issues among architects and home-owners.
Water supply authorities must improve production methods, help devise ways to store chemical sludge, focus more attention on drinking water quality (especially when it is disrupted by construction) and encourage consumers to conserve.
In addition to measures for educating the public about the need for sustainable development and lifestyle changes, the government should also try to avoid conflicts between government regulators and industry. That can be done by bringing together the different factions and attempting to achieve consensus. Many of the suggested proposals to improve environmental management could be painful, both for the private sector and consumers alike, thus raising serious questions on how quickly and effectively the environmental issues in Malaysia need to be addressed. One of the primary requirements is political will and the administrative commitment to ensuring such changes are put into effect. Removing ageing, polluting vehicles from the streets and introducing stricter emission standards for new vehicles are two examples that require decisions that will be distressful to many people.