Submitted by Reef Check Malaysia
Reef Check Malaysia (RCM), together with Yinson Holdings Bhd as the main sponsor and Coca-Cola as our strategic partner, is organizing a nationwide beach clean-up on Saturday, September 21, 2019, in conjunction with the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) Day. Several partners and friends, from individuals to companies, have already agreed to lead beach clean-ups in their own areas. This effort is part of our long battle against marine debris and plastic waste in Malaysia.
In previous years, RCM has conducted clean-ups and programs in conjunction with ICC on Tioman and Mantanani Islands, but on a much smaller scale. Then in 2018, we organized two beach clean-up events, as part of the International Year of the Reef 2018. We conducted a small-scale beach clean-up in March, and a bigger one in September for the ICC 2018.
The clean-up in September involved numerous partners across all of Malaysia’s states, and saw a huge volunteer turnout of 4,018 people in 84 locations. Some of our star-studded cast included Tengku Zatashah from Selangor, YB Yeo Bee Yin, Minister of MESTECC, H.E. Victoria Treadell, British High Commissioner, Reef Check Malaysia Ambassadors Baki Zainal and Wayne Thong Wai Yean – and celebrities galore. More than 7,500 kg of trash was removed during the clean-up, with the most common items being plastic bottles (30,248), cigarette butts (20,299), and plastic grocery bags (12,055).
These clean-up efforts are intended to raise awareness and bring attention to the problem of marine debris, specifically plastic waste, which represents a serious threat to marine ecosystems and human health. RCM has been working and collaborating with several partners from industry, such as Coca-Cola, and government to find solutions to reduce trash on our beaches. As part of our plastic waste campaign, we’ve had workshops with plastic manufacturers and suppliers, government, waste management companies and recycling companies, as well as plastic specialists Plasticity.
To continue our efforts this year, we will be initiating a recycling collection project in a pilot housing area to investigate the challenges to domestic separation at the source in Kuala Lumpur and to increase the rate of recycling. On Pulau Mantanani in Sabah we have installed a machine to reprocess waste plastic, turning a waste stream into products for sale to tourists. And in Pulau Tioman we hope to extend the successful recycling program to new areas.
We are currently recruiting partners and volunteers across the country who are interested to join us on September 21st. If you want to organize a team of volunteers (friends, family, colleagues) for a few hours on that day, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you more information on how to organize a beach clean-up and collect data to help us identify long-term solutions for trash-free seas. Please join our Facebook group for this event to receive the latest updates.