On the 3rd of Nov, a social media post went viral.
I first saw it on Instagram as a friend shared it on their IG story.
Andy Hickson, in the midst of a Sunday hike, exposed waste dumped in the forest in Gombak, northern Kuala Lumpur. And Foodpanda was one of the culprits as their bright pink bags could be easily spotted.
Foodpanda took (little) action
Following the callout, the company has investigated and cleaned up the affected area.
They’ve also recently given customers the option to opt-out of single-use plastic cutlery when ordering food. GrabFood has also done the same.
Sustainability has become a mainstream topic so it’s no wonder that these companies are heeding the demands of their customers.
However, I don’t think they’re doing enough, as the food is likely to be packed in plastic.
But back to the dumping of Foodpanda bags in the forest—I don’t quite understand why the need to throw away the bags.
Couldn’t they reuse those bags? Or perhaps donate to Biji-Biji Initiative to be upcycled?
So the questions of why and how the bags got there are still unanswered.
Waste dumping is not uncommon in Gombak
Sadly, this issue is not a one-off thing.
But it took one British lecturer to expose this on social media and go viral.
What if an Orang Asli person does the same? Would they get the same traction?
Not to be racist but I doubt it. Malaysians tend to find ang moh content more interesting.
Andy Hickson was even told by passersby that whenever the local council was informed of this issue, they just used a bulldozer to push the trash down the hill further into the jungle.
Why is this so?
It’s cheaper to dump illegally
If you find yourself perplex by a situation, remember that it all eventually comes down to money 🤑
In Malaysia, there is no technology to recycle waste products efficiently. If there is, it might be costly and companies can barely afford it.
The alternative would be to dump the waste illegally because it’s cheaper.
Dumping waste on bare ground requires fewer machines and less energy. Handling a recycling machine might require a certain expertise that would demand high pay, but you can pay someone very cheaply to dump your waste illegally.
In that situation whereby not much skill is needed, human labour is cheap.
The unending waste issue in Malaysia
It turns out that the Gombak area where Andy Hickson found the Foodpanda bags has been a dumping ground since the 1980s!
The local council knows about this issue for a long time but nothing much has been done. Not even when lorries come at night to dump more trash.
This is not just a localised issue but also a national issue.
Greenpeace found out that only 9% of waste is recycled and the rest is either burnt or dumped.
And other countries would dump their trash in developing countries like Malaysia.
Malaysia accepts the waste because the people is in desperate need of income.
While politicians like YB Yeo Bee Yin has voiced out their disapproval on this matter, the problem is still on-going.
I don’t know what’s at work at ground level but I won’t be surprised if I smell corruption.