ONE of the biggest challenges in major cities of developing countries is waste management.
“With a population of over 32 million, Malaysia generates about 38,000 metric tonnes of waste on a daily basis.
“Out of the huge amount, waste separation and recycle rate is only at 24% while the remaining 76% goes to the landfill,” according to Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.
Due to rapid development and lack of landfill space, authorities across the country are looking at other waste management approaches and one such authority is the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp).
Established in June 2008 under the Housing and Local Government Ministry, the corporation is initiated under the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Management Act (Act 673).
Its role is to ensure a more efficient, integrated and efficient public waste management and cleaning services as well as providing better satisfaction to consumers in terms of solid waste management and public cleansing services.
Aside from administering and enforcing solid waste management and public cleansing laws, it is also responsible for public engagement and education on the community’s role to realise such approaches/methods.
The corporation is currently taking care of the waste management system in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Perlis, Pahang, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Johor which cover 53 local government authorities.
Focusing on improving the solid waste system across states under its care, SWCorp shared its potential ways forward, which is also in line with the new Malaysian government’s direction of fulfilling its 39th promise: balancing economic growth with environmental protection.
“We are looking towards sustainable solid waste management and in order to achieve this goal, we have to first establish SWCorp as a solid waste centre of excellence and an industrial lead body in training the industry workforce,” Zuraida told The Star.
“We are targeting 30,000 participants from solid waste management service providers to undergo short- and long-term courses,” she said.
The corporation also aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2020.
“Landfill mining enables waste separation into recyclable materials such as plastic, glass and metals which are then upcycled into value-added products or energy recovery,” Zuraida explained.
A pilot project is being conducted at SWCorp’s headquarters in Cyberjaya whereby five units of the Smart Recycle Bin are placed at different locations of the building for employees to recycle PET plastic bottles and aluminium tins at their convenience.
In return, they will be rewarded with points, which will be recorded in their registered identification card or Touch ‘n’ Go card, to be redeemed at SWCorp’s cafeteria for meals.
Another way forward is to manage solid waste using green technology.
SWCorp is also launching into strategic partnerships with TNB, Sirim, Kulim Hi-Tech and LADA to come up with an anaerobic digestion system targeted to reduce 20% of food waste to landfills.
This also plays a role in encouraging the “treatment at source” method, where solid waste is treated through food waste composting machines, food waste carboniser machines as well as anaerobic digesters, into products such as bio-charcoal, fertiliser and renewable energy.
Zuraida added that the enforcement of waste separation at source saw an increase of 13% in recyclable items collection in 2017 compared to 2016.
Meanwhile, education since young is of utmost importance to increase the country’s recycling rate, she said.
“To date, we have implemented the 3R learning module in more than 15,000 pre-schools including Tabika Kemas and Tabika Perpaduan, with an estimated participation by 350,000 pupils,” she said, adding that the corporation is looking to increase the recycling rate to 30% by 2020.
Additionally, enhancing the overall policy of the solid waste management system and public cleaning is equally important.
Such execution includes the control system of waste collector vehicles monitored via an automated vehicle location system (AVLS) to ensure they are on schedule as well as an online reporting system for construction sites.
“Besides recycling, we are also promoting upcycling. This will not only create a circular economy but also reduce the number of landfills while increasing resource efficiency, leading to a more sustainable environment and economy,” concluded Zuraida.