Drastic changes needed for country’s solid waste management

BACHOK: There should be a transformation in the solid waste management system in the country as the current method requires improvement.

Universiti Malaysia Kelantan Faculty of Biochemistry and Technology (FBKT) lecturer Associate Prof Dr Wan Mohd Faizal Wan Ishak said based on the Auditor-General’s Report 2019 Series 1, there were areas of non-compliance with Key Performance Indicators for operations of landfill and leachate treatment plants.

“Solid waste disposal management at landfills and incineration plants under the supervision of the National Solid Waste Management Department and the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation was found to be less efficient and effective, posing a risk of environmental pollution.

“The main factor leading to the problem is delay in installation of three of the four incinerator plants that have been approved for construction causing the solid waste that should have been processed by the plants to be sent elsewhere,” he told Bernama here yesterday.

Wan Mohd Faizal said the equipment that used technology imported from abroad which caused delay in delivery and changing costs (due to changes in foreign exchange) would be the reasons given by contractors.

“We do not know the extent to which the technology is being studied, the suitability of local solid waste which certainly has different characteristics compared to the country of origin of the incinerator and problems related to maintenance, high energy usage and secondary pollution will arise.

“In fact, the use of sanitary landfilling is relatively outdated and conventional method. The high amount of rainfall will produce leachate, which will pollute the surrounding areas and enter the groundwater flow,” he said.

Wan Mohd Faizal said the slow decay process would produce a foul smell and cause the surrounding area to be shunned by residents living in the surrounding areas.

This can indirectly cause the value of the land or housing units in the areas to fall sharply, he added.

He suggested various methods that could be used for solid waste management that could provide good returns if it was properly processed.

“Among the final products that we get are methane gas, compost and some other materials, depending on the composition of the waste.

“Using incinerator technology requires very high initial expenditure and the high water composition in the solid waste requires high energy to operate,” he said.

However, Wan Mohd Faizal said such technology cannot be fully developed in Malaysia causing the country to depend on foreign countries.

“The cost to operate this system is also high and the energy generated by this incinerator cannot meet the needs of its operating energy.

“Although the incinerator has been used in foreign countries, it does not necessarily mean that it can be effectively implemented in the country due to the difference in the solid waste composition,” he said.

Wan Mohd Faizal said the lack of data for the composition of solid waste would make it difficult for incinerator suppliers to produce specifications that are suitable for our country.

“The production of methane gas from solid waste also requires a large infrastructure because the leachate material and foul smell will still be produced and this will be quite unpleasant for the surrounding areas,” he said.

According to him, the waste segregation campaign has yet to show a good result and it needs to be further streamlined to achieve its implementation goals.

He said it would be pointless to implement waste segregation if all the garbage was disposed of in the same place without making choices for its disposal.

“As such, FBKT suggests that the country’s solid waste management make drastic changes by using biotechnology to process solid waste either on a large or small scale and does not require a large expenditure.

“This method can be developed by FBKT using local expertise which is also suitable as a community project, implemented at a low cost,” he said. — Bernama

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