Penang changes mind, may go for incinerator as landfills run out of space

Local Government Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo says Penang now believes an incinerator is safe to use with the latest advancement in technology.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today said it would consider having an incinerator to get rid of municipal waste as landfills in the state have become almost full.

Local Government Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo admitted that the previous stance taken by Penang was to say “no” to incinerators, but with latest advancement in technology, the state believes it could be safe to use.

He said the move to set up an incinerator was also in line with the federal government’s requirement for each state to have one.

“Earlier on, we said no, simply because the technology was not as advanced as now,” he told a press conference.

Jagdeep said the incinerator, if built, would likely be undertaken by a private company, which would later be allowed to charge tipping (disposal) fees.

He said nine companies had shown interest in the private financing initiative (PFI), with the cost estimated at around RM600 million.

He said the cost of transferring waste to an incinerator would be at least “four times” higher than transporting it to a landfill.

The current tipping fees at the Pulau Burung landfill, near Nibong Tebal, is RM22.22 a tonne. The other landfill on the island, in Jelutong, is nearly full and restricted to construction waste.

Penang, which has the highest recycling numbers in the country, produced 1.25 million tonnes of waste last year, with 535,000 tonnes consisting of recyclable items.

Jagdeep said the state recorded a recycling rate of 43% last year, doubling the national average of 21%. The rate was 33% on the island and 47% in Seberang Perai.

“We plan to hit 50% by 2030,” he said.

He said the state government had also started a project to reduce waste going to the landfill, targeting to collect 85 tonnes of food waste a day as part of its “waste-to-energy” project.