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Closing the Loop


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Population: 1.77 Million (2020)
Population Density: 7,188/km2





Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia. With a total land area of 243km2, the city is also a home for nearly 1.77 million people. It is located in the Klang Valley Basin in Peninsular Malaysia. The Klang and Gombak Rivers converge in the city centre before flowing through Selangor State and discharging downstream into the Straits of Malacca.

With a total land area of 243km2, the city is also a home for nearly 1.77 million people as of 2020. The population is made up of 87.2% local citizens and 12.4% non-local citizens. The average size of Kuala Lumpur households by district was 3.3 per household and the number of living quarters are 543,600 houses in 2019

​Plastic Pollution in The City


In total around 1 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated in Kuala Lumpur per year. With a residential population of just over 1.8 million people, this equates to an average waste generation rate of 1.52 kg per resident per day (555 kg/capita/year). This is slightly higher than average values for Malaysia as a whole, with the World Bank What a Waste 2.0 report suggesting a 2016 waste generation rate of 1.21 kg/capita/day. This may be explained by Kuala Lumpur being particularly affluent and having a significant amount of commercial activity and tourism.

  • Malaysia represents one of the key players involved in the global plastic industry with about 1,300 plastic manufacturers currently operating within the country. Plastic production has recorded the highest growth rates of all industries for over two decades.
  • The country was ranked eighth out of the world’s top ten countries responsible for mismanaged plastic waste. One notable study estimates that Malaysia has generated a total of 0.94 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste, of which between 0.14 and 0.37 million tonnes may have potentially leaked into the marine environment.
  • 58% of the waste comes from residential areas, 23% from commercial activities, 2% from institutional establishments, and remaining 17% from other activities (recyclables sold to informal sector, litter and uncollected fly-tipped waste.
  • 161,000 tonnes of plastic waste are generated per year, which is 16% of the total MSW generation in the city. The highest quantities of plastic waste are generated by multi-family dwellings and then followed by single-family dwellings, retail, wholesale, office and other services.
  • 35% of the plastic waste is plastic bags, 19% is plastic bottles, 15% is plastic film, and 12% is single-use food service plastics. With the exception of drink bottles, the largest portions of plastic waste are comprised of low value plastic, making this a high priority.
  • 0.4% of plastic waste generation or 653 tonnes of plastic waste enters waterways each year, of which 42% is plastic bags by mass.
Kuala Lumpur
​City Priorities


  • Reduce the usage of the plastic through bans, tax/levy, support for alternatives, producing voluntary agreements in retail and commercial sectors (e.g. restaurant, hawkers)and promoting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Improve the quantity and quality of existing waste containers (right size, easy loading to truck, lids securely fastened, protection from animals/rain/wind, durable, maintained).
  • Capacity building including by disseminating information on the status of recycling activities in Kuala Lumpur and promote open-source data sharing on recycling in Kuala Lumpur, Community based waste management, implementation of source separation synchronously, neighborhood collection stations and waste sorting units.
  • Enclosing or covering storm drains, regular cleanup of drains, surveillance, positioning of litter traps, regular clean ups, monitoring of street sweeping activities.


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