Did you know that plastic bags and polystyrene are one of the largest waste contributors in sanitary landfill, contributing to 24% of the 19,000 tons of solid waste in Malaysia?
In recent years, Malaysia has taken steps in reducing environmental impact by encouraging greener alternatives by reducing the usage of plastic bags with the implementation of No Plastic Bag regulation.
The benefits from reducing carrier bag use are clear: they create unsightly litter and cause harm to wildlife and marine ecosystems. Plastic bags, on the other hand, are just one part of the problem of plastic waste, especially single-use products such as soft drink bottles, coffee cups, straws, product containers and other packagings. Plastic makes up about 13% of our solid waste stream, which means about 4,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Malaysia each day.
By switching to reusable and biodegradable products, we reduce energy and greenhouse gas production and conserve natural resources. So do sustainable solutions really work? Can we as consumers really make a difference? Read on to find out.
Renewable Energy Sources
Meeting our energy needs, or at least part of it from renewable sources is a cleaner and more sustainable solution than the use of fossil fuels. Hydropower, wind and solar are all examples of renewable energy sources. In Malaysia, the overall usage of renewable energy is about 22% last year.
We are not quite ready to switch over entirely to renewables because there are issues with reliability of supply -our inability to control the weather. It is difficult to generate renewable energy in large quantities and large spaces are required for wind and solar farms.
Reducing energy demand is an important factor in achieving sustainable energy. In 2016, Rentokil Initial achieved:
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Modern pest control techniques focus on a more effective environmental friendly approach known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This focuses on pest prevention through measures such as monitoring and identification of pests, prevention of infestation by employing techniques such as reducing food sources for pests, improving cleaning methods, and physical exclusion.
Identification of the threshold to take action against pests is also important in some sectors such as food processing or healthcare—zero tolerance must be applied. In other sectors, the presence of one or two insects does not require an immediate response.
Good pest control practice limits the preventative application of pesticides because the risk of pesticide exposure to humans and the environment outweighs the benefits. This is especially so when non-chemical control methods, such as trapping or exclusion, can achieve the same results.
The Use of Pesticides
Use of pesticides, as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme, is important and necessary to control pests that can be harmful to humans, destroy crops, cause damage to buildings and cause distress. Legislation ensures they are used responsibly and in a targeted way.
Resistance to pesticides has occurred, although sometimes it is due to poor pest control practices.
Local research institutes, NGOs and others have played active roles in promoting and developing these safe and cheap crop protection technologies and a flexible regulatory system has contributed to the success. In Malaysia, we have been using non-chemical and biological control as a means to command agricultural plague. For example, Sarawak Land Consolidation And Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) chooses the discipline of Integrated Pests Management (IPM) in controlling the pests and disease outbreak.
Water is a precious resource that is in short supply in many parts of the world.
Water companies are working hard on sustainability by driving down leakage, promoting use of water-efficient appliances and advising how to save water. For example, turning the tap off while brushing your teeth can save 6 litres per minute and a short shower uses a third of the water used in a bath. The use of water butts and rainwater can help conserve water in the garden, and soapy water from the kitchen sink is perfectly usable on plants.
Sustainable Use of Batteries
Batteries are the workhorse technology behind all the essential portable technology used in our connected and powered world, ranging from mobile phones, electronic toys and portable lighting to household gadgets such as vacuum cleaners, drills and garden tools. Recently there has been a rapid increase in the use of electric vehicles and renewable energy storage and soon there may be even electric passenger planes.
Single-use batteries remain available, but rechargeable battery technology has been slowly improving since the advent of the lead-acid battery and now the lithium ion battery. In Malaysia, there has been a surge of power bank usage among mobile phone users to a point where it needed to be regulated.
All batteries have toxic elements that need special handling after use, however, especially the highly toxic cadmium in nickel-cadmium batteries. While the rechargeable lithium ion battery is here to stay in the medium term, there is a lot of research going into new battery technologies to increase capacity, reduce recharge time and improve sustainability of the materials used.
Sustainable Use of Detergents and Cleaning Products
Many household cleaning products are formulated to enter the drain and into wastewater. As a result, the soap and detergent industry is committed to improve sustainability and encourage consumers to adopt more sustainable ways of cleaning, washing and household maintenance.
For example, Department of Standards Malaysia has a strict guideline for hazardous substances and toxicity before manufacturers can label their products as biodegradable. Advances in technology have also resulted in more sustainable products, such as soaps that are more concentrated, two products combined and refillable packaging.
These improvements require less energy to manufacture and transport, while refillable reusable packs and those that can be recycled minimise environmental impact.
Protecting The Planet
Sustainability is an important issue to ensure that our use of the planet does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity and the environment. Technology plays a key part in finding economically viable and environmentally sound solutions for protecting public health. Legislation will also play its part but it is good to see there is a lot being done on the individual level by answering the government’s call to a more sustainable future.
Click here to learn more about our Integrated Pest Management solutions.
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