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Community composting hits dead end

MPK makes its own compost tp fertilise plants at its nursery and trees planted as landscaping.

MPK makes its own compost tp fertilise plants at its nursery and trees planted as landscaping.

Malaysians produce a huge amount of waste and the Government is always looking at new ways to address the problem.

Kuala Lumpur’s landfills are filling up quickly and the Federal Territory is hardpressed to find sites for a new landfill.

Composting offers an environment-friendly solution; it helps reduce the amount of waste that has to be disposed at waste disposal sites, thereby increasing their lifespan. It is also a good organic fertiliser.

However, despite the efforts by local councils in Selangor, the response from residents so far has been lukewarm.

According to several councils, they have tried to introduce the community composting project to residents by providing pointers and even compost bins, but there have been few takers.

While there may have been some enthusiastic response when the projects were first introduced, participation soon fizzled and only a handful of individuals are still composting their own kitchen or garden waste.

The Selangor government is looking at other options to manage waste in the state, such as separating waste at source.

A pilot project will be carried out in the Kajang Municipal Council soon.

The state government has made clear its intentions to manage waste in a holistic manner and will be discussing other options with experts from overseas.

StarMetro spoke to several councils to learn about their various composting initiatives.

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ)

The council has a green rebate scheme that offers tax assessment rebates to households and businesses with water and energy-saving initiatives such as rainwater collection, composting and solar power.

The MBPJ One-Stop Centre unit head Lee Lih Shyan said the council started the household composting programme three years ago.

“We guided those interested for over two years, now they can do it on their own.

“We reward house owners by giving them a 20% rebate on their assessment fees. This year, there have been 109 submissions to-date,” he said.

Tan is a firm believer in the benefits of composting.

The council has also worked with a private company to set up a composting centre in Petaling Jaya Old Town, to inculcate the practice of waste separation at source.

“We encourage hawkers at the Jalan Othman market to separate organic and non-organic waste.

“We are looking into getting multi-national corporations involved, where there will be separation of waste at the companies’ cafeteria.

“This will have some impact on the companies’ existing contractors as they have to change their work procedure since waste is separated at source, but we have several companies who are keen to collaborate,” he said.

Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ)

MPSJ started the Community Compost Project in 2010 and 152 residents took part.

Residents who take part in the programme have to email photos of the compost bin and the composting process to MPSJ so the council can check if iit is being done correctly.

Currently, the project is being carried out in Taman Seri Serdang, Taman Berlian, Batu 3, and Kampung Seri Aman, Puchong.

MPK parks and recreation department assistant agriculture officer Zainuddin Md Noh (Klang Municipal Council makes compost from cut trees and branches at its nursery)
Zainuddin says MPK is able to save RM2,000 monthly by composting instead of buying fertiliser.

Subang Jaya resident Tan Yeng Yap is a self-confessed environmentalist who uses solar lights and cycles to the convenience store instead of driving, whenver he can.

He is a firm believer in the benefits of composting and recalled that he used to leave his garden waste outside for the contractors to collect it.

Once, they did not come for weeks and he noticed that the grass around the rubbish bag containing garden waste became healthier. It turned out that the garden waste had decomposed and leaked out of the bag into the soil around it.

This spurred him to research about composting.

He makes two types of composts — one from garden waste like leaves and branches and another from kitchen waste like fruit peels and egg shells.

“By making my own compost to fertilise plants, the plants are healthier.

“I am also able to save on fertiliser. It reduces the council’s waste collection burden too,” he said.

Klang Municipal Council (MPK)

At the MPK nursery is a composting site measuring 6,000sq m.

The council grows plants at the nursery and supplies it to schools and government agencies for landscaping purposes.

MPK Parks and Recreation Department assistant agriculture officer Zainuddin Md Noh said the council started making the compost after 2011 when they faced waste management problems.

“We are able to save RM2,000 per month, which was the cost of buying fertiliser.

“We now send less waste to to the disposal site.

He said residents could get the compost for free at the nursery.

“We have received many enquiries and are willing to teach those who are interested to make compost at home,” he said.

A council employee noted that plants at the nursery had become much healthier with the use of organic fertilisers.

Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj)

MPKj Landscape Department director Norazman Abdul Rahim said the council had its own in-house composting programme for more than six years.

“We use grass, leaves, and branches collected by public cleaning contractors who prune the trees and cut grass.

“We have yet to use garden waste from residents as the waste is not separated. Residents usually throw away plant matter together with bulk waste, so it is a hassle to separate it,” he said.

He added MPKj used to have a community composting project about five years ago but it fizzled out in a year because of lack of participation from residents.

“Residents should separate their waste at source,” he advised.

How to make compost

1. Break fallen tree branches into small pieces. This can be trickyfor residents as the council uses a wood chipper. 

2. Spray EM (Effective Microorganisms) onto the pile of plant matter. 

3. Water the pile daily to keep it damp to expedite the decomposition process. 

4. Turn the pile twice a week so that it decomposes evenly. 

5. Continue the process for three months and the compost will be ready for use once the pile turns to mulch.