Packaging waste filling up trash bins


A worker washing the waste compaction area at the Batu Maung Waste Transfer Station in Batu Maung, Penang. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

WITH more people working from home these days, there is a significant increase in domestic waste being sent to the Batu Maung Waste Transfer Station especially paper food packaging, containers and plastic bags.

Kenny Yeoh, who is director of Eurasia Express Sdn Bhd (EESB) that manages the station, said the increase was due to more people opting for takeaways for their meals during the lockdown.

“Now we’re seeing an increase in these items as malls, hotels and factories are open and the workers are buying their food in containers and paper-based packaging.

A view of the landscape pond storing treated waste water at the Batu Maung Waste Transfer Station in Batu Maung, Penang.A view of the landscape pond storing treated waste water at the Batu Maung Waste Transfer Station in Batu Maung, Penang.

“However, we don’t have the data to show the increase as we did not segregate the waste during the pandemic. We fear it could be contaminated with items such as face masks and gloves which were directly brought to the station. We do not want our workers to be infected,” he said.

Yeoh said during MCO 1.0, there was actually a 22% drop in the daily waste collection from around 760 tonnes to 590 tonnes as most of hotels, malls and companies were closed then.

“There was a 6% drop of waste collection during MCO 2.0 and a 5% drop during this lockdown. However, we received plenty of paper food packaging, containers and plastic bags during this period.

“During the pandemic period, we put a lot of importance on the standard operating procedure at the station where every truck

An employee at the control room monitoring operations at the waste discharging site of the waste transfer station.An employee at the control room monitoring operations at the waste discharging site of the waste transfer station.

handling enhanced MCO areas has to be disinfected thoroughly before leaving the station.”

Yeoh said with 90 of the Penang Island City Council trucks making about 350 trips daily, it was an arduous task for all the vehicles to drive into the disinfecting bay at any one time.

“As such, only the trucks that are going to the lockdown areas are required to visit the disinfecting bay.

“Even our 16 prime movers which take the waste to the Pulau Burung landfill are disinfected,” he said.

Rubbish trucks at the Batu Maung Waste Transfer Station.Rubbish trucks at the Batu Maung Waste Transfer Station.

The RM75mil Batu Maung Waste Transfer Station was built to transfer and dispose of bulk and domestic waste.

It is one of its kind in the country which uses horizontal compression method. The silo is at the bottom with the hammer at the top, compressing the solid waste.

There is also a food waste recycling project at the station which will be rolled out in two years’ time.

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