The need for a proper, sustainable waste management system at the Lahad Datu market is critical. Situated at the polluted river mouth, the water is clogged with anything from chicken parts and rotting produce to floating Styrofoam ice box. Led by Vincent Wong, a group of youths got together to tackle the problem head on, creating a sustainable circle of activities that include river cleaning, waste management, and composting campaign.
The youths are educating and engaging the Lahad Datu public through innovative environmental initiatives, which include composting market waste into fertilisers and making balls of mud and compost, called mudballs, to throw into the river to clean up the water.
Following several sessions of river cleaning, where the cleanliness of the water quickly deteriorated to its previous condition, the group saw that there was a need to give a complete solution to the garbage problem for Lahad Datu. To ensure public buy-in, the group is also starting a composting campaign in selected schools and residential areas to persuade locals to start composting at home.
Regular “mudball throwing sessions” will be organized every month where the public will get an opportunity to contribute to river cleaning by making mudballs and throwing them into the river. The compost in the mudballs releases microorganisms that will help remove slime and sludge from the river water. The group is also providing an alternative to traders at the market to dispose of their waste, which will then be transported to a small food waste processing plant, where it will be processed and later sold as natural fertilizer.