KUCHING: Wastage of food in the country must be addressed urgently as a recent study by the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) showed that during Ramadan, about 270,000 tonnes of leftovers that could still be consumed were discarded.
According to SWCorp, the food could have fed 180 million people, six times the country’s population of 27 million and if the discarded food was arranged in piles, it would be 30 times the height of the KLCC tower, which is 452 metres high.
SWCorp chief executive officer Abdul Rahim Md Noor was reported as saying an average of 9,000 tonnes of food were discarded daily during Ramadan, an amount of food that could feed six million people.
“Food leftovers are the highest component in the solid waste composition scale at 45 per cent, while the cost of managing solid waste in the states under SWCorp reached RM1.4 billion last year,” Abdul Rahim told Bernama.
SWCorp oversees the solid waste management system for Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor.
Reacting to the startling findings of the study, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said the public must be made aware of the wastage and taught how to avoid it.
Wan Junaidi said it is Malaysians’ ‘hobby’ to eat and this encourage food wastage when the leftovers that could still be consumed, especially in a hotel buffet, were disposed of wastefully.
“I agree that there is a lot of wastage especially in a buffet. If we study the food prepared in a hotel buffet, for example, there is a possibility that about 50 per cent of the food will be disposed of and not consumed. This also explains why the charge for a hotel buffet meal is very high, which is because of the loss made by the restaurant/eatery operator due to wastage,” he told reporters after presenting contributions to 810 recipients from Seberang Hilir and Santubong Zones at Darul Hana Mosque here yesterday.
Wan Junaidi, who is Santubong MP, said although he is aware that hotels and restaurant operators would not give away their food leftovers to the needy due to concerns about food poisoning, this needs to be changed so that the food that is still clean and fresh from the wok can be given out to the needy. He said food wastage could also contribute to environmental pollution and high carbon footprint emission.
Earlier during his speech, Wan Junaidi said with an increasing world population and the decline of food producers, the world population is now faced with a food shortage.
“This is among the concerns of my ministry because we have to report to United Nations (UN) bodies on whether Malaysia has a sufficient level of food for the people.”
Despite the world food shortage, Wan Junaidi said Malaysians are still blessed with sufficient food, adding that the eating pattern among the people had not changed even though their way of life had changed.
“Last time, we walked and cycled to the mosque but now we use motorcycles and cars. Our livelihood has changed but our eating pattern still hasn’t changed. This will affect our health because we do not exercise regularly.”
He also took the opportunity to remind Muslims to eat moderately during Ramadan and focus more on their religious deeds.