Making Less Waste

How much trash do you think you produce in a day? In 2021, it was estimated that each person in Malaysia produced 1.17kg of trash daily. Don’t think that’s a lot? Think again. 

The population in Malaysia has reached 32.8 million in 2021. If you accumulate all the solid waste produced by the whole Malaysian population, it totals up to a whopping 38.4 million kilograms of trash every single day. That’s equivalent to the weight of more than half a million orangutans! Which is sadly more than the actual orangutan population left in the world.

The 3Rs

Reduce, reuse and recycle — the 3Rs initiative was developed in order to improve waste management systems and reduce human ecological footprints. Reducing means minimising the quantity of waste we produce. Reusing involves finding new uses for items that would otherwise be discarded. The term “recycle” refers to the process of transforming something old and useless into something new and valuable.


Simply put, reducing means producing less trash. It is the most effective strategy for keeping the environment clean, which is why it is the first of the 3Rs. By reducing, you can halt the problem at its source. Making less waste in the first place equals less rubbish to clean up later. Here are some simple steps you may do to reduce your waste:

  • Say no to plastic bags
  • Bring and use reusable bags when you go shopping
  • Bring your own container
  • Bring your own water bottle or tumbler
  • Only buy what’s necessary


Reusing is finding a new purpose for outdated or unwanted goods that would normally be thrown out. You may repurpose products in a variety of ways to help minimise your waste footprint:

  • Donate clothes that no longer fit or worn
  • Repurpose old towels into rags for cleaning
  • Sell or give away old toys, books, furnitures and more
  • Reuse old jars or containers as storage 
  • Repurpose old toothbrushes and use them to clean those hard to reach corners


Recycling is the final and most often used of the 3Rs. Recycling is the process of converting discarded materials into new products in order to avoid the use of more virgin resources. 

Malaysia established the very first official 3Rs initiatives in the late 1980s, with ads mostly focusing on recycling. Unfortunately, the recycling rate was so low that it had little effect on improving existing waste management practises.

The Malaysian government has made it essential to segregate solid waste at the source since September 1, 2015. This implementation, as stated by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, is in accordance with the regulations enacted under the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act of 2007. (Act 672).

Fortunately, Malaysia’s recycling rate has improved dramatically over the last few years, rising from 15.7% in 2015 to 30.67% in 2020. Before all else, we should not be delighted because Malaysia continues to fall behind other developed countries. Malaysia’s recycling rate in 2020 was reported to be lower than that of other developed countries such as Singapore (59%), Korea (49%), and Taiwan (60%). Plastic waste has undoubtedly increased with the rise of food delivery services and packaged foods.

The key challenge is how to deal with plastic waste after it has been used. If we throw it away in regular garbage cans, it will wind up in a landfill or, worse, in our oceans. We must be watchful and begin to consider our own planet, Earth.

Separating our wastes

The steps to properly recycle our wastes begin by separating our wastes, and doing so comes with benefits such as:

  • Prevents recyclable materials from being discarded.
  • Reduces the amount of solid waste disposed of in landfills
  • Saves resources such as time and money that would otherwise be spent on further waste separation.

So how should I separate my waste?

Always sort your trash into two categories: recyclables and residual waste. Sort your recyclables into plastic, paper, and other categories. Food, wet items (tissue and/or paper towels, etc), and soiled items are examples of residual waste (diapers, sanitary pads, etc). In Malaysia, recyclable waste is often classified into the following categories:

  1. Plastics
  2. Metal (Cans or Aluminum)
  3. Paper
  4. Glass
  5. Food Waste
  6. E-Waste
  7. Clothing

Recycling plastic waste

Plastic comes in a wide range of shapes and colours, as well as many different sorts. Each one is unique and serves a particular purpose. Some varieties of plastic, for example, are recyclable while others are not due to the chemicals they contain; some can be recycled while others must be disposed of differently.

The wide range of plastic variation is one of the things that make it so confusing to know which can or cannot be recycled. So here’s a quick guide of the categories of plastic and their Resin Identification Code (the three arrows chasing each other in a triangle with a number in them).

Image source: Thong Guan

Seven different types of plastic exist in total, however in Malaysia, only three can be recycled effectively. The three categories are 1, 2, and 5, and they are all 99% recyclable. Meanwhile, due to a lack of supporting facilities in the country, the remaining categories are more difficult to recycle.

Our packaging

All OLUMES products are formulated with sustainability in mind. With this same mindset, the products are also packaged in bottles, jars and boxes that are reusable or recyclable. Please do remember to remove the sticker labels, then wash and dry your empty OLUMES bottles and jars first before placing them into the recycling bin. Here is a detailed list of the packaging materials:

  • CLEANSERS – Self Foaming Protein Cleanser
  • TONERS – All Toners
  • SERUMS – Botanic Bio Placenta Serum

– The Satin Cream (Advanced Version)

– The Mighty Emulsion

– The Brightening Cream, Gel Cream Hydrating Illuminator, Ultra Moisturising Cream & The Satin Cream (Previous Version)

In a nutshell

Remember to sort your rubbish carefully. Separate the organics from the non-organics, and keep the plastic separate from the glass and paper. Doing so will aid in the recycling process! If you’re not sure whether the item you’re about to throw out can be recycled or not, check out this Trash Encyclopedia by Zero Waste Malaysia. They’ll also show you a map of upcycling, recycling and waste disposal centres near you.

P.S.: Nutshells would be considered as residual waste. So you can either throw them in the bin or better yet, compost them!