Friday, 28 August 2015

Separation Anxiety

So, an "information blitz" has begun, days (presumably) before 1 September, when many of us are supposed to separate our trash before chucking it out.

I'm all for this. For too long we've been ignoring the fact that, for the convenience of throwing everything out the door in one bag, we've been inconveniencing the folks who have to sort out the mess at wherever our garbage ends up.

And few things feel as empowering - or as hipsterish - as knowing what a difference we make by sorting out our own trash.

I just have a few questions:

  • Should we wash the recyclables before throwing them out? Imagine all the cleaning that has to be done for those who live out of styrofoam packs, plus the scrubbing down of plastic bags for your kopi C peng, pickled green chillies and whatnot.
  • And have any of you tried washing a bottle used for storing Scott's Emulsion? Your kitchen will smell like fish, and that's putting it mildly. I'm speaking from experience.
  • What happens to oil-soaked or sambal-stained cardboard pizza boxes and wrapping paper? Can these still be recycled after waiting for two weeks in the trash before pickup? Can't imagine what would've had a go at the cardboard before the sanitation staff after all that time.
  • What about items with mixed components, like glass bottles for supplements? The caps are plastic - should these be removed and disposed of separately? Same goes for milk and fruit juice cartons.
  • Leather products: shoes, wallets, belts, Moleskine covers ... where do these go? And what about stone, bricks and heavy ceramics such as old porcelain thrones?
  • Shredded CD-ROMs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, credit cards, ATM cards, SIM cards ... how? Do we lump these together with plastics or...?
  • Ah, yes ... used tissues. As someone with allergic rhinitis, on some days I churn out a lot of this regularly. My educated guess would put this under "Others", a.k.a. (Possibly) Biohazardous Waste, perhaps? But I guess they could be recyclable if the compunds used to treat the paper are harsh enough...

Also, there had better be a more robust collection and recycling mechanism for old electronics: smartphones, old appliances, discarded computer peripherals and components and so on coming soon. We should also be thinking of wiping that old hard drive, flash disk or SD card before disposal...

...alright, most of the questions above have been answered by this online presentation (which I learnt about before I could post this) by the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government (whose minister is not among Malaysia's favourite people at the moment, but that doesn't make waste separation a bad idea).

I just had to get it out of my system.


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