THE Selangor government will build an Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) facility next to the Jeram sanitary landfill in Kuala Selangor.
Selangor Local Government, New Village Development and Legalising of Factories Committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah said the plan was expected to take off next year.
The idea, he said, was mooted by the state and its wholly-owned subsidiary and waste management solution provide, Worldwide Holdings Bhd.
Worldwide is currently looking into more efficient and cost-effective technologies for the ISWM centre.
Ean Yong said the centre, besides being environmentally-friendly, would have to be cost-effective and benefit the state.
He said the cost of building the centre would be known once Worldwide finalised the type of technology that would be used at the plant.
The idea was approved at the Selangor state executive council meeting last year.
For now, a waste-to-energy plant, recycling plant, anaerobic digestion plant, compost plant, construction waste recycling site and research and development centre are on the drawing board.
“We are facing land scarcity and the volume of waste will increase every two years by 3% and landfills are not sustainable or environmentally-friendly,” he said.
The plant, he added, would be an extra source of income for the state following the generation of electricity, compost, recycling materials and more.
“Waste management is not cheap but the cost can be reduced if the people help us by recycling and reusing items, so less rubbish end up at landfills,” he said.
The state has also started several pilot projects, including one in Kajang to turn food waste into energy.
Ean Yong said positive reports were received on this initiative and they would continue to monitor its progress.
There were also pilot projects in several wet markets to treat and reduce organic waste.
Experts have mixed feelings about the state’s decision on the ISWM facility, saying there is a lot more to it than just technology and facilities.
Universiti Malaya’s Institute of Biological Sciences Research Associate and former Solid and Hazardous Waste Management senior professor Prof Dr P. Agamuthu said Selangor needed thorough research and development before going ahead with the project.
“My advice to the state is to carry out a 30-year waste management master plan. There is no point doing things on an ad hoc basis,” said Prof Agamuthu, a firm believer of a holistic integrated waste management approach.
“All the technology used for waste management has its pros and cons but judging from the current waste generation in Malaysia, I believe the best waste energy option for Malaysia is thermal,” he said, adding that thermal waste was when combustion was used to turn waste feed into energy.
However, thermal treatment had received flak for its flue gas emission and the use of incinerators.
“Flue gas in the emission produced dioxin and furan. But people do not understand that this is not 20 years ago, the system used now for the treatment of flue gas is so advanced that there will be no emission of dioxin and furan from the thermal treatment,” he stressed.
Prof Agamuthu said in some countries, the plants were located beside residential and commercial areas without raising any alarm due to the governments’ transparency in revealing the emission levels.
Although sanitary landfills, including Jeram, generate energy as well, the landfill had plastic materials that were not recycled due to the lack of separation at source.
Most countries with low recycling efforts like Malaysia had plastics in landfills blocking the flow of landfill gas, resulting in 50% to 60% gas extraction, he said.
This also raised the question of turning biological waste to energy where food waste was converted using anaerobic digestion into biogas.
Prof Agamuthu said the method was quite efficient provided the waste was not mixed with plastic or metal.
He also said waste manage-ment involved technological hierarchy but in Malaysia, this was on the reverse.
“If you look at the waste management hierarchy, we should look at waste prevention.
“In Japan, Denmark and South Korea, the per capita waste generation was on the decrease.
“So, waste prevention is one of the main things we need to look at,” he added.
Waste prevention and the 3R concept with separation at source would help reduce garbage at landfills.
His sentiments were echoed by Waste Management Association of Malaysias (WMAM) honorary secretary Mohd Radhi Cheah, who said there was a lot more to ISWM.
The ISWM method should involve education, production, recycling and even transportation, he added.
“WMAM has a triangle of waste options with the most favourable courses of action at the top and least favourable at the bottom.
At the top is reduce, reuse, recover, treat and then finally dispose at landfills.
Radhi said it was important to educate people on ways to reduce waste including packaging and food technology to ensure packaging and storage could be reduced too.
This would help reduce manpower, transportation costs and see reduction in carbon emission.
Radhi said the state needed a masterplan or a waste management blueprint with input from the private sector to succeed.
He said the private sector, including contractors, had ground experience and could provide valuable input that would benefit the state, the people and environment in the long run.
“The technology and systems are available but choosing the best cost-effective one is the challenge.
“One has to look at the composition of our waste, people’s readiness, infrastructure and our cultural background in formulating the blueprint.
“Then, we choose the techno-logy which is in line with the plan, programmes and vision of the state or country,” said Radhi.