KUALA LUMPUR: Local waste management experts are confident Malaysia can shift to a circular economy where reduction, reuse and recycling of resources prevail for the benefit of the environment. At least one trade organisation, the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA), is already taking the necessary steps in that direction. The term “circular economy” is defined as an idea for a truly sustainable future that works without waste and is in symbiosis with the environment and its resources.
It is a future where every product is designed for multiple cycles of use, and different materials or manufacturing cycles are carefully aligned so that the output of one process always feeds the input of another. Rather than producing emissions, by-products or damaged and unwanted goods as waste during the manufacturing process, in the circular economy this waste become the raw materials or “nutrients” for new production cycles. A circular or regenerative economy can also be loosely described as maximising the use of resources or materials by channelling waste back into the production cycle to be used as a raw material source, thus closing the loop of product manufacturing and waste management. Waste management expert and senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap) Irnis Azura Zakarya said Malaysia would be able to practise a circular economy if the relevant ministry gave its full support to the idea. However, she said, in order to achieve a circular economy, the country must first put in place efficient recycling and waste management practices. “It is important to identify recyclable resources and materials that can be reused and returned to the economic cycle. “This means we have to now reconsider materials that are usually regarded as waste and view them as valuable resources or secondary raw materials. “And, to enable industries to make full use of such secondary raw materials, any obstacles that stand in their way should be eliminated,” Irnis Azura, who is also director of Unimap’s occupational safety and health unit, told Bernama.
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