FIRST off, congratulations are in order to the Selangor state government for finally approving the Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) facility next to the Jeram landfill in Kuala Selangor.
This will include a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, a recycling plant, anaerobic digestion plant, compost plant, construction waste recycling site and a research and development centre. In all honesty, it is a brilliant and long-awaited plan to deal with our solid waste.
It clearly shows that even with the 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) programme marketed by the state government, there is still a need for better waste management centres to deal with the 3% increase in waste generated every two years.
At the same time, I am sure this centre will be coupled with the Selangor waste-sorting project which will ask residents to sort their household waste into two simple categories – recyclables and non-recyclables.
This will be the second time a WTE plant has been mentioned this month, the first being hopefully a similar setup proposed in Taman Beringin, Kepong. Of course, neither of these are the first that will be completed. The first integrated WTE plant in Malaysia is at Bukit Merah, Port Dickson, which is already under construction.
National Solid Waste Management Department (JPSPN) director-general Ismail Mokhtar has said that the Taman Beringin project is in the final stage of the tender process and would be announced by the end of this year.
The plant in Kuala Lumpur will generate enough electricity to power 57,000 houses for every 1,000 tonnes of waste burnt. And according to the report “A step closer to new era of waste management” (The Star, Nov 6), with 2,700 tonnes collected and sent to Jinjang Selatan daily, there won’t be a shortage of trash.
I have yet to see the power production for the plants in Port Dickson or Kuala Selangor, but hopefully these will be able to generate power for households as well.
WTE technology has, of course, been under attack from a certain NGO which has now made their Facebook page private to bar questions. Additionally, it is quite surprising that they have not mounted a similar challenge against the one in Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
In their latest ploy in the press to protest this project, their chairman said that the proposed KL plant’s ability to generate energy equivalent to the ones in Japan was questionable due to the size of the population.
Well, the Japanese also have 21 such plants, whereas we are only planning on having three now. Also, considering the fact that we generate an average of 1.9kg of solid waste daily compared to the 1.1kg for the average Japanese, I would believe it is safe to say that there will be no shortage of trash.
Another argument is that we should focus on recycling.
Well, the Koreans recycle 45% of their trash, and they still have 35 WTE plants.
At the same time, there needs to be more enforcement to undo illegal dumping sites.
It seems to me that there is a disconnect between the NGO and the facts on the ground brought forward by JPSPN, the states of Selangor and Negri Sembilan, and even the rest of the countries which have embraced WTE technology.
Perhaps everyone else is wrong and this NGO is the only one that is right, who knows? What I do know, however, is that we need integrated, long-term solid waste management plans. We need to rely less on landfills and move forward in both recycling and WTE technology in order to deal with the increasing demand on our waste management system.
We have leisurely delayed discussing this matter because of our continuous dependence on landfills, whereas our close neighbour in the south has established four such plants to deal with their waste out of necessity.
The truth is, we are playing catch- up. And with current technology, proper maintenance and even educating the general public on the importance to reduce, reuse and recycle in all shapes or forms, we will create a better future for ourselves and the generations to come.
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