Call for continuous awareness to preserve environment

CITING from a study report by the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) in 2005, Brunei produced an estimate of 1.4kgs of solid waste per capita in a day putting us one of the highest in the region at that time.

In a separate study, figures calculated by the World Bank have estimated such number equates to the forecasted global average amount of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) per capita a day at 1.42kgs by the year 2025.

Brunei was reported generating about 0.87kgs of MSW per capita a day close to Poland at 0.88kgs.

MSW generation rates are mostly influenced by the development of economy, the degree of industrialisation, and social activities.

From JASTRe’s 2005 survey, 16 per cent of total solid waste were found made up of plastics which were largely derived from commercial plastic.

About six years later, the No Plastic Bag Weekend initiative was introduced in 2011, born a national campaign to reduce plastic bag waste arriving at landfills.

The country aims to phase out plastic bag use through the campaign by 2019 in its bid to reach 15 per cent recycle target of the overall solid waste by 2020, a modest five per cent increase from 10 per cent in 2015.

Perhaps shoppers might need time to adjust with this initiative as it calls for a personal disciplinary change in what was institutionalised over many years.

But to no surprise, such campaign are not new and are also being practiced in other developed countries especially by businesses voluntarily.

It is astonishing to learn that plastic bags are generally used at an average of 12 minutes as most of the time it will be disposed, if not being burned ignorantly.

It is also widely assumed that the use of plastic bags tends to spike during events and festive period.

As a responsible global citizen, I wish to thank JASTRe for publishing list of recycling companies in its website.

This has helped environment conservative to send any old or used newspapers, books, magazines, and plastic bottles for recycling.

I also found the downloadable handbook on various recyclable items very useful and educational, particularly to nurture the habit of keeping the environment safe, healthy and livable for all generations.

This is something that I believe should be included in any early childhood programme or business community for references.

After performing Friday prayers, I once witnessed a senior citizen purposely throwing on the ground a leaflet that was initially on his vehicle door handle, before entering his car. Similar incidents also happened during a regatta event where I was shocked to see an elderly couple throwing away rubbish into the Brunei River innocently despite half empty rubbish bins five metres away.

I do admit, people throwing rubbish on the road has become a rare sight.

However on a different scale, it seems likely there have been an increased number of compound fines issued to companies for irresponsibly disposing rubbish in public areas.

It was disheartening for me to personally witness this action by a Bruneian (without discriminating age, gender or upbringing).

Such unconscious behaviour surely has led to a wrong display for kids and youth attending the mosque, not to mention our tourists attending festive events or in public spaces.

As a nation that has gained over three decades of independence, it seems like we have not yet struck the right civic mindset across all walks of life.

With the Vision 2035 just around the corner, it exhibits the need for more continuous effort and educational programmes in reaching out to the citizens to promote preserving the environment and instilling recycling habit.

– Bakalingow