Tackling waste pollution during Thaipusam festival through best management practices

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KUALA LUMPUR, 7 FEBRUARY 2020: In an effort to encourage Malaysians to reduce resources wastage during Thaipusam festival, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) with support from the River of Life Public Outreach Programme Phase 5 (ROLPOP5) is organising an awareness campaign entitled CLEAN Thaipusam with the theme Culture 4 Nature: Be Responsible. 

Running from February 6 until February 9, the campaign objective is to spread awareness to reduce packaging waste and organic waste such as flower garland, fruits, and food leftovers by adopting best management practices (BMP) during this religious festival. The campaign encourages those participating and celebrating to use green packaging when offering annathaanam (offering food), to bring own tote bag and containers to keep the archanai (Pooja to praise or honour the Lord), food and drinks, and to dispose of waste responsibly.

This campaign anticipates to outreach approximately 1000 devotees, public and food stall operators. This is one of many ROLPOP5 activities implemented by Global Environment Centre (GEC), an environmental non-governmental organization appointed by the Department of Irrigation (DID) Malaysia. ROLPOP aimed at improving attitudes and behavior changes of Malaysians to reduce pollution and improve the water quality status of the Klang River.

One hundred forty buntings on BMPs developed under the ROLPOP5  were displayed a day earlier by DBKL along the chariot procession route which starts from Sri Mahamariamman Temple (Kuala Lumpur) at Jalan H S Lee, passing by Jalan Ipoh and ends at Batu Caves Temple. GEC together with CLEAN Thaipusam Volunteers and SWCorp Malaysia have also approached the food and drinks stall operators along the chariot procession route to emphasis best management practices towards reducing waste.

YBhg. Datin Dr. Noor Akma Binti Shabudin, Director of Health and Environment of DBKL said, “Awareness on best management practices is the key to engage and promote the public to care for nature by managing waste with responsible. This is also to ensure the waste does not end in our drains and later into our water bodies especially the Klang River. During this religious festival of enhancing ourselves and serving others, we should not only think of reducing waste but also ways to lessen our impact on our rivers and environment.

This is one of many initiatives taken together with DID Malaysia and GEC after our earlier engagement with them on CLEAN Bazar Ramadan last year.  DBKL hopes to continue the effort for other festivals too in the future as a platform to educate and engage the public to practice green practices. “

Amongst the activities conducted under this campaign is coconut waste segregation. Volunteers will collect the coconut waste and send to process into charcoal, which consequently reduce landfill dumping. Besides that, the campaign also carried out audit of waste composition to identify the types of waste generated during Thaipusam festivals. The data obtained is utilised to reduce waste generation in the next festival.

DBKL also hopes that this campaign will help to reduce the high volume of wastes generated during a religious festival, promotes behaviour changes and serves as a good platform for ROLPOP5 to spread its river conservation message to the public.