GEORGE TOWN: PENANG island has seen an increase of 40 tonnes of waste during the first 10 days of Ramadan.
Penang Island City Council Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the council collected 624 tonnes of waste daily during Ramadan, compared with 584 tonnes of waste daily in other months.
“The increase in waste come from perishables, such as cooked meals, vegetables and fruits. We are taking steps to address the is sue,” he told the New Straits Times.
Yew said one of the measures taken was to encourage traders to prepare the right amount of food to be sold.
“We have introduced the Food Bank concept, where unsold food is given to those in need. We also advise traders to contribute their leftover s to animal breeders to be used as animal feed.”
Khairil Razali, 28, a cendol seller at the Penang General Hospital Ramadan bazaar, said at times, he had no choice but to throw away unsold drinks.
He said business had been slow during the rainy weather.
“I usually pack about 10 packets of cendol drinks and will pack more when I see more people buying.
“If I have unsold drinks as the time for breaking of fast approaches, I share them with my friends and traders here.”
In Kuantan, the Kuantan Municipal Council has introduced the Wakaf Infaq Ramadan programme, where unsold food and drinks from Ramadan bazaars in the state capital here would be collected at three locations to be distributed to the needy, including students from higher learning institutions.
The locations are the Rahimah canteen near the Darul Makmur Stadium bazaar, Pasar Raya Tunas Manja in Sungai Isap and the Mahkota Square Ramadan bazaar.
State Local Government and Housing Committee chairman Abd Rahim Muda said canopies had been set up at the locations.
“Bazaar traders can send unsold food, drinks and kuih to the canopies, which are manned by council staff. They will arrange and distribute the packed meals,” he said.
“I understand that the collected food is also supplied to students at Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Polytechnic in Semambu and International Islamic University Malaysia in Indera Mahkota.”
A municipal council spokesman said the programme was introduced in 2016, but it was not popular among traders here until recently.
“This year, we have stationed extra staff members at the three canopies to make arrangements and ensure that the food is in good condition and properly packed before we deliver it.
“Traders can send food between 3pm and 8pm.”
Traders said they usually sent the unsold food to the needy, including construction workers, in the state capital.
Mohd Abu Kassim, 35, said traders would ensure that unsold food was not thrown away.
Occasionally, he said, traders would slash the prices of food items or give them away for free before Maghrib prayers.
In Shah Alam, traders were advised to ensure that the amount of food and beverages to be sold for the day was well planned.
Shah Alam City Council corp orate and public relations division head Shahrin Ahmad said traders were advised to donate unsold food and beverages that were in good condition to mosques, surau, orphanages, as well as welfare homes.
“The city council has always advised Ramadan bazaar traders to minimise food wastage.
“We also remind them of the polystyrene ban introduced in 2017 and encourage them to reduce the use of plastic bags.”
Shahrin said every year, the city council’s licensing department would brief traders on the dos and don’ts of running a Ramadan bazaar stall, stressing cleanliness and hygiene.
“We emphasise the importance of reducing food wastage during the briefings.”
He said more than 1,000 Ramadan bazaar permit holders were briefed in a series of meetings before the start of Ramadan.
In Kuching, Mayor Datuk James Chan said the Kuching South City Council said traders were committed to minimising food wastage.
“Traders are committed to their businesses and comply with our terms and conditions.
“They take their food preparations seriously. They meet the cleanliness and hygiene standards and manage their rubbish and waste properly.”
He said traders were educated on managing their sales efficiently to avoid food surplus.
Over the years, he said, traders had learnt on which days they were required to prepare more.
“We don’t have any major issue with food being wasted and we have not found large volumes of food in the rubbish bins.
“If there are any leftovers, traders will bring them home or give them to other hawkers or the needy in the neighbourhood.”
A hawker at the bazaar, Zarina Zalami, said business would slow down after 6pm and she would stop preparing food by 5.30pm.
“I sell fried squid and fishballs at the bazaar. Usually, I stop preparing them around 5.30pm to avoid a large volume of leftovers,” she said. -- Additional reporting by Mohamed Basyir, Dawn Chan and Goh Pei Pei
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