The situation is dire, and we think that it is especially important to bring the problem of food wastage to the table during Ramadan in Malaysia. Bear with us here… We know it hurts to read articles like these, as it does hurt to research and produce a write-up. However, it’s absolutely vital that we’re aware of what we’re doing, for only then do we know such a problem exists and feel a sense of duty to solve and prevent it together as a community. With that in mind, let’s begin.
Let’s Start With The Facts And Stats
According to Oriental Daily, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail recently said data unveiled by Solid Waste And Public Cleaning Management Corporation (SWCorp) shows that about 15,000 metric tonnes of food is thrown away every week by restaurants and hotels. That number pushes up to 20,000 metric tonnes of food per week during fasting month.
In an article by theStar in 2018, Malaysians have reportedly wasted more than 3,000 metric tonnes of food on a daily basis. During Ramadan last year, 615,000 metric tonnes of food were wasted during Ramadan season. The media company also reported that roughly 20% to 50% of all fruits and vegetables produced by farms are discarded somewhere along the production line, be it from physical defects or from poor management.
In a separate article, theStar reported that these 3,000 metric tonnes of food is actually still edible, and can feed a total of 2 million people on a daily basis.
How Bad Exactly Is That?
Putting Numbers Into Perspective
I’ll be the first to admit that statistics showing large numbers are something used so often I become desensitised to them. Often, I simply cannot comprehend the full scale of it. Hence, I’m here to put some numbers into perspective as I hope it’ll be easier for you to better feel the full extent of the problem at hand.
1 tonne is equivalent to 1,000 kilogram. That is practically the weight of a Proton Saga, which has a curb weight of 1,035-1,075 kg. That means, each and every single day, Malaysians waste a total of 3,000 Proton Sagas’ weight worth of food. How about a year? With about 1.1 million tonnes wasted, we waste about a few Petronas Twin Towers’ worth of food in weight a year. That’s right — pure, perfectly edible food, all stacked to half a kilometre tall across 1 km2 of land.
How about 2 million people? Well, according to Google, Penang has a reported population of around 1.8 million. In other words, the edible food that goes to waste is enough to feed the entire population of Penang as well as 200,000 more people on a daily basis.
Other Problems To Learn About
Many of us have heard of “the food could’ve went into the mouths of the hungry”, but there are many more problems at hand that we may know of. For instance, food wastage also causes excessive greenhouse gases to enter the atmosphere in more ways than one. Greenhouse gases worsens global warming, and can have a severe effect on not just the hungry, but on the entire human race. Based on data by The Lost Food Project, 791,681 kg of food rescued prevented 1,504,194 kg of excessive greenhouse gases. That means, each kg of food rescued prevents 1.9 kg of excessive greenhouse gasses. In other words, 3,000 tonnes of wasted food daily lets 5,700 tonnes of excessive greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere daily. Imagine, the weight of 5,700 Proton Sagas’ worth of greenhouse gases collecting above us everyday, let alone a year…
Some Light At The End Of The Tunnel Of Wasted Food
Notice that the statistics given are only for thrown away food that’s still in good condition and are edible. That means that there’s a couple thousand tonnes more of food that were wasted due to poor management. However, good news follows (finally) as there’s been progress made in this department through administrative actions.
Back in December 2018, Malay Mail wrote of how Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said a law on food waste will be formulated upon completion of a study on it. She also said that such a law was important to stop the habit of wasting food in our society, and will indirectly teach us to appreciate food more.
Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that the government was considering imposing fines of customers in restaurants and hotels whom waste food.
She spoke of how the government will implement the Malaysian Food Bank Programme through the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to address the issue of food waste in shopping centres. The programme, with a plan to be implemented nationwide early 2019, would see food surplus obtained from hypermarkets such as bread, vegetables, and fruits be distributed to those in need.
According to a recent article published by Malaysiakini, Food Bank Malaysia has benefited 45,850 households as of February. Our Deputy Prime Minister said that the programme successfully managed to save 1,055 tonnes of excess food.
Here’s A List Of Places To Fight Food Wastage
Of course, the government isn’t the first to address and put efforts into solving this problem. Many foundations and projects have been established to curb this very same issue. Be it donate your unsold food as a Ramadan bazaar stall owner/ restaurant owner, donate unfinished cooked/catered food from house-gatherings, or volunteer for charity — here is a list of places you can consider.
If you are serious about this, please visit each of their websites to find out more information, and/or contact them through the numbers provided. Know that your options are not limited to the lists that will follow, and you may do your own research should you decide to join the fight against food wastage, hunger, and global warming.
1. Kechara Soup Kitchen
2. Pertiwi Soup Kitchen
3. Street Feeders
4. Soup Kitchens by Fungates Superflow Foundation
5. Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur
6. Assumption Soup Kitchen
Website(s): Assumption Church PJ
Contact Information: +60 12-212 2397 (Alice Massang)
1. Anjung Singgah
2. Shelter — Home for Children
3. Agathians Shelter
4. Pusat Transit Gelandangan Kuala Lumpur
1. Mutiara Food Bank
Contact Information: +60 19-519 2953
2. Food Aid Foundation
3. United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR)
4. The Lost Food Project
5. The Nasi Lemak Project
6. Charity Right Malaysia
What Else Can We Do?
We’re fortunate enough to have food on the table, let alone good food. Heck, we’re fortunate enough to even be on the internet, instead of having to work our backs off pulling mountains of cardboard boxes on a discarded bike to the nearest recycling centre in hopes that it’ll yield enough money to survive another day.
One thing we can do is to order only what we can eat. Often, we order more food than we can handle, and so all of it goes to waste. It hurts not only to see food go to waste, but financially as well since large portions of food often cost more. Plan your meal, and know how much you can take.
Another thing we can do is to finish food that only past its expiration date by a few days. The expiration date on labels are just the manufacturers’ best guess as to when their food will be freshest and of the best quality. Food that go past its expiration date are still very much edible within a few days. Finish that carton of milk you bought, ‘cuz it didn’t expire yesterday!
Help Us Help Malaysia
Oh so unfortunately often, these articles go unnoticed. We’ve compared engagements online between articles with shiny colourful food and articles with realistic world issues. The ratio of engagements is practically 1:10 — it’s heartbreaking. Yet, we write on anyway, as we hope to be able to make a change with this article. We’re not looking for “Likes” — there really isn’t anything to like here. Please, even if you feel like there’s absolutely nothing you can do, at least spread awareness of these issues. Share and tag people who may actually be able to help curb this issue. Malaysia needs us.