SELANGOR’S population of almost 6.3 million people – the largest in the country – generates more than 7,000 tonnes of solid waste a day.
And the authorities are looking to waste-to-energy (WTE) technology to deal with all that rubbish.
Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB) Waste Management Sdn Bhd managing director Ramli Mohd Tahir said the state was planning to develop Malaysia’s most modern WTE plant. “Phase one will be a part of Selangor’s integrated solid waste management centre, with a capacity of 1,200 tonnes of solid waste per day. It is expected to be completed by 2022.
“Phase two will have a capacity of 2,000 tonnes of solid waste per day and is expected to be completed by 2024.
“Both phases are estimated to cost about RM1bil, ” he said.
Ramli, in delivering the keynote speech on behalf of state environment, green technology and consumer affairs committee chairman Hee Loy Sian at the International Conference and Exhibition on Wastes Management (ICEWM2019), urged everyone to do their part in implementing sustainable waste management practices.
Worldwide Holdings Bhd’s WTE head Daniel Liew Jin Sheon said there were misconceptions about WTE plants among Malaysians.
He said some people thought of such plants as health-risks and polluting the environment.
In refuting such views, he said such WTE development played a big role in holistic waste management.
“Malaysia generates over 33,000 tonnes of waste per day on average.
“Selangor, being the most advanced and most populated state, generates slightly shy of one quarter of the national total.
“A huge chunk of the waste is going to dumpsites and landfills, and only a small fraction is brought to recycling facilities.
“That is because the rubbish is wet and all kinds of things are mixed into one bag, so it is not in the condition to be recycled.
“However, the good news is that our technology is evolving.
“Modern landfills are now able to generate gas for power.
“Biological treatment generate biodiesel and biofuel, thermal treatment extracts energy directly from waste through incineration and gasification and finally, recycling facilities extract useful contents for WTE, ” said Liew during his presentation at ICEWM2019.
Liew acknowledged that one of the challenges faced was the cost involved in ensuring the emission was within the safe limit.
Another challenge, he said, was the mixed waste from Malaysian households, which was wet and had low calorific values that resulted in a lot of problems during treatment and recycling.
“These issues make the process time-consuming and costly.”
He said it was also challenging to change the people’s negative perceptions on WTE and their wariness in accepting the technology.
He highlighted that with modern technology, the dioxin released during the WTE process was lower than the concentration of dioxin emitted from truck engines, cigarette smoke and wood combustion.
“Globally, there are more than 1,000 WTE plants in operation. This shows that WTE development is mature and well-accepted throughout the world, ” he added.
The conference was organised by Environmental Management and Research Association of Malaysia (Ensearch) in Shah Alam, Selangor, with the aim of finding solutions for the waste management sector.
In his welcoming remark, Ensearch president Gobinathan Kumaran Nair said the United Nations sponsored 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) that were designed for countries to embrace better environmental practices.
“In support of the SDG No.12, which is responsible consumption and production, we should aim for substantially reduced waste generation by the year 2030.
“This is achievable through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
“Our country has shown it is committed in moving this agenda forward.
“As such, Ensearch deemed it necessary to organise open forums like ICEWM2019 that provides a platform for stakeholders, policy makers and industry players to be a part of the sustainability and environmental developments, ” said Gobinathan.
Tex Cycle Technology (M) Bhd chief financial officer Geraldine Hii said the company’s WTE development focused mainly on reusing, recovering and reducing.
“For our WTE solution, we use gasification.
“Gasification is a process of breaking down organic waste, also known as biomass, into synthetic gas which then can be used to generate energy to supply the electric grid.
“With 50 to 100 tonnes of processed biomass per day, it can generate up to one or two megawatt of electricity, ” she explained.
Tex Cycle has partnered up with UK company Culzean Generation Limited to establish a joint venture company that now has more than 5,000 customers throughout Malaysia.
“We collect waste, treat it and send it back to the industry to be reused.
“Recovered products can be used over and over again until they are no longer usable.
“We turn our unusable products into fuel source, which is what our renewable energy plant is all about, ” added Hii.
Cenergi group chief executive officer Ernest Navaratnam said Asean was devoted to achieving 23% of renewable energy (RE) in the primary energy mix by the year 2025.
He is convinced that Malaysia has strong potential in RE growth.
He said mini-hydro was possible with Malaysia’s abundant resources in biomass and biogas.
He added that electricity and biogas could be produced from the more than 450 working palm oil mills.
While much of the waste at landfills has potential to be processed into energy, there is a growing category that needs to be handled with care – e-waste.
State local government, public transport and new village development committee chairman Ng Sze Han said at ICEWM2019 that the Department of Environment (DOE) had established 33 e-waste collection centres in Selangor.
These centres take in used or unwanted household and electrical appliances such as computers, telephones and printers.
A speaker at the conference, Renewcell (M) Sdn Bhd business development manager Mohd Hazny Aziz said that to dispose of used battery legally, one needed to go to authorised treatment facilities that were recognised by DOE and a fee is charged for the facility to recycle the batteries.
“Because of that, some people choose the illegal method which involves illegal transportation abroad and resource recovery as then they get paid.”
He said one solution to this problem was battery regeneration technology.
“Regeneration technology is an old technology from 1998 where owners in those days use it for their own benefit. In the same vein, Renewcell promotes reviving and reusing batteries.
“We created a new business model in Malaysia and became a one-stop centre for people to drop off used lead and nickel cadmium batteries, ” he said, adding that a group from India visited Renewcell’s centre last year to learn how to set up their own one-stop centre for battery collection.
Illegal dumping and hazardous waste management were also a concern for Cenviro Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer Johari Jalil.
“Illegal dumping is not something new and there are many cases reported.
“Nonetheless, it is a chilling signal to us when Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin revealed that there are 25 ‘dead’ rivers in Malaysia due to improper waste management, with 16 of them in Johor, five in Selangor, three in Penang and one in Melaka, ” he said.
Johari opined that awareness and affordability played a big role in waste management.
“More often than not, there is a tendency for many product manufacturers to either neglect or forget about the cost of waste disposal, ” he said.
He said strict enforcement could encourage industries to innovate and seek proper technologies for waste treatment.
“The Environmental Preservation and Innovation Centre is our effort to reach out to as many audiences as possible to create awareness on hazardous waste management, ” he added.
Ernest pointed out that the future of our younger generation was in our hands now.
“Cenergi and all the other industries here are doing our part in our own way.
“Malaysia has a huge potential in making a change, so let’s take action, ” he urged.