Going biological for a better way to deal with waste

Dealing with waste is a problem in Malaysia, according to environmental groups.

PETALING JAYA: A new and better way of dealing with waste through mechanical biological treatment would solve many problems, according to the Malaysian Nature Society.

The society’s president, Ahmad Ismail said the government should move away from landfills and incinerators which create air and water pollution.

Sanitary landfills would reduce open burning, prevent contamination of water and produce energy, but a better option would be the mechanical biological treatment, widely practised in Europe, he said.

The technology involves fermentation, drying and separation, with the benefits of recycling, converting waste to energy and producing compost.

“The cost may be higher but it solves many issues in the long run such as land, transport, maintenance and health,” he said.

He urged the authorities to emulate Shanghai which has considered strict laws on compulsory sorting of household rubbish as it aims to become a waste-free city.

The scheme is expected to reduce 80% of the city’s waste by the end of 2020. Ahmad said Malaysia must educate the people and involve the local community, civil society and businesses to make it more effective.

A reward system for who those who recycle at the source might also encourage more people to take part, he said.

Andrew Sebastian, chief executive of the Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Malaysia, said Malaysians have a high level of food waste per capita, showing that society is undisciplined and not environment conscious.

For Malaysians to succeed in reducing waste, he said, strict laws and strict monitoring would be needed more than good incentives.

Global Environment Centre director Faizal Parish said: “Half of domestic waste can be composted and another half can be recycled. If it is done properly, then waste will not end up in the rivers and the lifetime of landfills will be extended four or five times.”

However, Faizal added that Malaysians do not like following a system, and the government does not follow through with enforcement.

“The attitudes of the public and the agencies are the challenges in Malaysia. The government needs to get serious and set up proper systems and do enforcement and follow through.”