The concept of SMART Rangers came about during the three-year Kelana Jaya Lakes Rehabilitation Programme where three working groups on pollution reduction, rehabilitation and education came together to work with the community in achieving a better environment.
This soon led to a School Environment Education Programme where one of the main activities were Environment Education Camps where students could learn more about the environment and its management. There was also a clear focus on solid waste management in Malaysia, which was seen as a major environmental issue.
From there, Global Environment Centre saw the potential of proper education for school children on solid waste management and decided to develop and initiate the SMART Rangers Programme with an objective to train students and teachers to be 'recyling experts' . Support for this project came from the UNDP-GEF Small Grant and DANIDA in 2004.
At present, there is a lack of information, knowledge and education for the general public to take action on solid waste management issues. Some local governments are currently spending up to 40-70% of taxpayer's money annually for SWM alone, and is facing considerable problems with the rising amount of waste that the nation is producing. An average Malaysian produces up to 2kg of waste per day with only around 5% of all waste is being recycled. Our landfills are reaching their maximum capacity and other options, such as incineration, are being considered. Since the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act was passed in 2007, there is now government support for SWM activities at the local level.
Proper education on the issues and how to manage solid waste properly for our younger generations can help to build a greener nation - one that is conscious of solid waste issues, and how to manage their waste responsibly.