Brunei still behind in practising 3Rs

National 3 minutes, 19 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

RECYCLING has been gaining momentum in Brunei, but the sultanate is still way behind in understanding and practising the 3Rs concept.

While recycling is one-third of the 3Rs, the remaining two of 'reduce' and 'reuse' stay in the backseat despite the frequency of recycling drives in the sultanate.

Firdaus Mokim of non-governmental organisation Green Apeel said more could be done to tackle the issue as the country and its people strive to be more environmentally conscious.

“To be honest, Brunei is still way behind in terms of practising 3Rs and this can be seen from various areas such as the recycle bins provided by a local company in strategic locations,” said Firdaus.

He expressed concerns that some youth are unable to see the bigger picture and do not understand how practising the 3Rs could enrich their lives and the future.

“When you ask younger generations about the 3Rs, most of them do not know what it is and they don’t seem to think it impacts their life.

“Not all domestic waste is a "waste", we should try to maximise this waste to something beneficial to the society such as convert the gas from waste to energy and other things which can be seen from other countries such as Taiwan which is know for their green concept,” said Firdaus.

The Municipal Department, through its Vehicle Support and Maintenance Unit, recorded a total of 9.026 tonnes in domestic waste from June 2013 to March 2014.

The unit records a consistent increase every year when Ramadhan comes by.

Last year, it recorded 9.40 tonnes of domestic waste collected during the fasting month in August. It also recorded its rubbish collection trips at 555, about 100 trips less due to the shortened working hours.

The data is only a collection from a select number of households within the Bandar Seri Begawan municipality, raising questions of how much domestic waste is actually collected across the country.

“We should be concerned. People are not aware about these statistics and how it will affect the environment in the long term. With the existence of using plastics for almost everything in daily life, it is something to look at and authorities need to promote awareness to the public about this matter,” said Firdaus.

Community Engagement Director of Green Brunei Khairunnisa Ash’ari said implementation of the 3Rs remains a problem despite an increase in recycling activities.

“Awareness on 3R is increasing but when it comes to implementation on a daily basis, we still have a lot of work to do,” she said in an interview.

She said more people are aware of recycling due to an increase in recycling campaigns this year, which helped to educate the public about how and what can be recycled.

“However, when it comes to reuse and reduce, there are not many programmes to address this. We would see half-drunk water bottles being disposed during events.

“Consumption can reduced with the use of refillable bottles. Overuse of paper still happens at many events, when paper can be reduced by using both sides or eliminating them altogether by going digital or using whiteboards,” Khairunnisa said, adding that Green Brunei has been trying to promote the 3Rs as a culture and not just mere programmes.

“The 3Rs should not just be a programme, it should be our way of life,” said the community engagement director.

It may seem an easy concept to reduce consumption and reuse, but confusion persists as to how the 3Rs work.

During a previous interview with Head of Environmental Planning and Management Division Martinah Hj Tamit, she had said many do not understand the concept of recycling.

“Some people like the idea of using plastic bags with the logic that it could be recycled to throw away their domestic waste. This does not fit with the idea of recycling.

“It does involve the reusing of materials but people tend to forget that the waste inside the plastic bags do not decompose,” she had said.

The Brunei Times