Food for thought: A dramatic increase in food waste is witnessed in Muslim countries during Ramadan every year due to lavish grocery shopping and elaborate iftars.
SWCorp’s annual report noted that during festive seasons, huge portions of food end up being thrown away. This year is no exception and the numbers are expected to increase by 15 to 20% every festive season. Even though statistics for 2019 is not final yet, the numbers are expected to increase for each state (especially in Kuala Lumpur) based on trends since 2016.
The food wastage for the entire holy month amounts to over 120,000 tons thus far. This is equivalent to a whopping 343 million packs of medium-sized nasi lemak.
SWCorp deputy chief executive officer Mohd Pauze Mohamad Taha highlighted that “This amount of food waste could have fed 2.97 million people three times daily.” He also pointed out that “food leftovers make up 44.5% of the solid waste composition, which has an environmental, economic and religious impact. These leftovers that end up in landfills produce a large amount of leachate and methane gas that’s harmful to the environment.”
Islamic Shari’ah advocates for eating in moderation and forbids excessiveness. To help mitigate the issue, SWCorp has initiated a Food Waste Reduction program dubbed “Love Food Hate Waste”. This programme aims to analyse the amount of food surplus from Ramadan bazaars and save excess food by channelling them to the less fortunate, underprivileged graduates and homeless students.
The public has also been advised to stop over-spending on food and plan their meal according to their needs while not being overly greedy. Leftovers must also be stored properly as improper storage leads to a huge amount of food waste.
Mr Mohd Pauze said that “Food waste management comes with a hefty price tag and puts a strain on the economy. “We must keep away from the habit of wasting food because the habit isn’t the practice of any religion and it will also be detrimental to ourselves.”
He also called for public awareness on the issue and mentioned the importance of powerful social media campaigns through the use of local celebrities, activists and influencers to get the message across. When more people are educated, food wastage can be reduced significantly. Keep the plates clean and do your part to protect the environment!