THE Penang government is intensifying its food composting initiatives and food awareness campaigns to reduce food wastage.
State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the state government had installed bio-regen food waste machines in several locations to convert such waste into bio-liquid soil enhancers.
“We are running a food composting pilot programme involving food stalls at Chow-rasta Market, where food waste from the market is sent for composting.
“We collected 3,000kg of waste in 15 days from 28 business operators at Chowrasta Market and Jalan Macalister.”
Phee said to encourage food waste composting, the state government had implemented a waste segregation policy.
“There are many places that do not implement the policy, but we will look into ways to encourage waste separation, including imposing legal sanctions on offenders.”
He said there were more than 20 food wastage awareness campaigns carried out by the state government last year.
“We had awareness programmes, games, competitions, exhibitions, talks and discussions last year, which have improved public awareness of the problem.”
Meanwhile, the sight of an unfinished plate of food irks S.M. Mohamed Idris.
Idris, president of the Consumers Association of Penang, said many people did not see that as a problem or understand the effect it brought.
His concern was not baseless as the amount of food going to waste continues to rise, indicating the public’s lack of awareness.
Four years ago, the association ran a survey and found about 350,000kg of food were wasted in the state daily.
The figure has doubled to an estimated 700,000kg daily.
He said the increase in numbers showed that people were unconcerned about food wastage.
“People do not care, and most of the campaigns about food wastage has made no effect.”
He said action must be taken as food waste emitted greenhouse gases and contributed to pest problems.
“Pests, such as rats, are everywhere because of food waste.”
Idris said food waste also led to problems like clogged drains, adding that the state government needed to take measures to prevent food wastage.
“There is a need for a stringent, rather than a carrot-and-stick approach, to reduce food wastage.
“Regulations should be introduced, particularly in the food and beverage industry.”
He said in Japan, the food and beverage industry was regulated under the Food Recycling Law.
“Although the law focuses on food waste, rather than food wastage, it helps reduce wastage.”
He said another move that could be taken was to tax outlets with high volume of food waste.
He said awareness of the dangers of food waste should be instilled into children from a young age.
“Parents should teach their children to finish their food, and order food within a limit.”
He said eateries should serve smaller portions to customers.
“The customer can order more if they want.”