MENTION the word landfill and most of us would have images of mountains of reeking rubbish left in the open.
However, a visit to the Bukit Tagar Sanitary Landfill will dispel these preconceptions as the site, located about 50km from the city, is clean and well maintained.
Almost no rubbish could be seen and there were only hints of the stench. The site looks more like a well-managed construction site, given the bare land and the dusty roads, than a place to store refuse.
During a recent visit, we were told there was even a small canteen on the site, which we decided to try out as well.
“Many people think landfills are dumpsites where we dig a hole, dump the rubbish in and cover it up.
“That is not how it works anymore, ” said KUB-Berjaya Enviro Sdn Bhd managing director Chock Eng Tah, who feels the public need to know more about what modern waste disposal facilities are like.
Chock said with proper planning and comprehensive design, the landfill could continue to be used even after it was full.
The Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill in Puchong, which was the first engineered landfill in the country, is one such example, as it was turned into a park after it was full.
The former landfill was managed by Worldwide Landfills Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of Worldwide Holdings Berhad, which is fully owned by Selangor State Development Corporation).
Operations at the landfill came to an end in 2006 and the land was reopened five years later as a public park with a 5km jogging track (comprising both tarred road and interlocking bricks), bicycle track, and a playground and exercise area.
The 40.5ha site, now known as Worldwide Landfills Park, is located next to the Air Hitam Forest Reserve and also houses a renewable energy power plant that uses methane to generate electricity and a leachate treatment plant.
Other notable landfills that have been converted for public use are:
> Freshkills Park, USA
The world’s largest landfill was transformed into Freshkills Park in 2008 with an expansion project taking up to 30 years. According to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the 890.3ha park will be three times the size of the city’s famed Central Park. Landfill gas is harvested and sold, contributing some RM39.4mil (US$12mil) in annual revenue. The city also utilises the park for environmental research purposes.
> Sydney Olympic Park, Australia
Not many know that the Sydney Olympic Park, home to the summer Olympics in 2000, was also built on a former landfill and industrial site. The construction also incorporated various forms of green materials to connect with the ecosystem in the area.
> Harborside International Golf Centre, USA
The centre has two gold courses and a practise facility and an academy constructed on a former sanitary landfill, while its driving range was built on a construction waste landfill.