Malaysians love food and we always find a way to get the best dishes out there. Sometimes when we are short on time, it might lead to tapauing. These can be instances where you might not have enough time to dine in or maybe want to bring the food for a party. However, one major issue with this tapau culture is that it leads to major waste problems. In fact, a recent report from WWF Malaysia shows that tapauing is one of the major contributors to plastic waste. Of course we understand that sometimes it might be the only option to get yourself meal, but we would like to encourage you to be more environmentally conscious as well.
Tapauing and its Contribution to Waste
The most obvious reason for this is that tapauing food results in lots of one time use plastic containers. For example, tapauing noodles can include up to six different plastic items. Your soup and noodles are in two separate packagings which then go into on plastic bag. In addition, there can be a small plastic bag for chilli or sambal. Furthermore, if you include cutleries you will get a plastic spoon and wooden chopsticks packed in plastic. Previously, it was even worse with many eateries choosing to go for polystyrene containers thanks to its heat retaining abilities.
Because of the negative impacts, the government is working on banning the use of plastic as well. Therefore, most places now use biodegradable plastic bags which also comes with a fee. This is to help encourage customers to bring their own bags. However, there are no changes in regards to the plastic containers.
While PET plastic is easily recyclable, many of us still choose to just chuck it in the bin. As a result, the huge amount of plastic ends up in the landfills where they slowly choke our planet. Unfortunately, the answer of recycling is not an easy one because the plastic must be cleaned before it can be recycled. Therefore, it is not a convenient option for many.
For those who do take the effort to clean out any plastic packaging for recycling, it is disheartening look at the state of our system. According to the WWF Malaysia report, our country actually has the best recycling infrastructure in ASEAN. However, the majority of recyclers are processing imported recyclables instead.
Moreover, local collection and availability of recycling bins can prove to be an obstacle. Recycling bins can be rare and those that exist are left to overflow because collection is not done regularly. Therefore, the materials end up in landfills, dumpsites, or as litter.
Doing it Right
While the easiest way to solve this problem is to stop tapauing, we know that isn’t realistic. Therefore our first suggestion is to bring your own containers. If you know that you want to tapau food for lunch, dinner, or a party, then bring along your own container. Glass is a good option but can sometimes be too fragile. Instead, invest in a sturdy microwaveable plastic container and just be sure to keep reusing it.
Furthermore, if you are someone who regularly grabs a cup of coffee or you love bubble tea, try to get a reusable travel bottle. Many places accept these and will happily prepare your drink for you. A thermos is also a good option for hot drinks. Avoiding additional plastic can be as easy as investing in metal or bamboo straws and keeping a set of cutleries with you. The straws usually come in their own cloth bag which you can then slip a set of cutleries in.