The big question is – ‘Do we need an incinerator?’


By “Environmental Engineer”

I read with disgust on May 24, a letter in FMT titled “Landfill worst choice, not incinerators”.

Obviously, the writer Sharifah Ibrahim did not do quite enough research on landfills to criticise it. Or was the article written in a hurry in support of certain incinerator lobbyists for personal gain?

She started out by lambasting Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming for being an anti-incinerator supporter.

Any concerned citizen, whether he is an MP or not, is duty-bound to speak out on environmental issues when there is any doubt surrounding it.

I am an environmental engineer and a concerned resident living in Bandar Utama, located within a 10km radius of the proposed incinerator in Kepong. I, too, am very concerned about the proposed incinerator and its attendant environmental issues.

Sharifah’s ignorance on landfills has created a biased view as evident in her article.

She says if there is no incinerator, there will be more environmental damage caused by landfills in Kepong. Hello Sharifah, do you even know where all the household waste in Kuala Lumpur is being disposed of right now?

If you don’t, allow me to educate you.

All of the 2,500 tonnes of waste in Kuala Lumpur is disposed of every day at the Bukit Tagar sanitary landfill. So where is the environmental damage caused by landfills?

There are two types of landfills: sanitary landfills and dumpsites.

Sanitary landfills are fully-engineered landfills designed with full environmental protection, whereas dumpsites are mostly ad hoc, haphazard areas selected by irresponsible people to receive waste with no regard for the environment.

Kuala Lumpur waste is currently being disposed of in a sanitary landfill, not a dumpsite.

Sharifah says there will be leachate and methane produced in the landfill, and that is correct.

In the Bukit Tagar sanitary landfill, leachate produced is treated in the leachate treatment plant that conforms to full Department of Environment standards. Meanwhile, the methane gas produced in the landfill cells are extracted to produce electricity and then connected to the grid, i.e. electricity sold to Tenaga Nasional Berhad.

I am among the fortunate few who had the opportunity to visit the Bukit Tagar sanitary landfill for an educational visit some years ago. We were told that the total land size gazetted for landfilling activities was 1,700 acres, capable of handling waste from the Klang Valley and Kuala Lumpur for the next 60 years.

This is contrary to Sharifah’s claim that we are running out of land.

Sharifah also said, “We are asked to hate incinerators so we can show our love for the environment, but landfills are against the environment too.”

Sharifah obviously has no depth of subject matter and should not even be writing about incinerators or landfills. Her article is off-tangent, and she has a poor understanding of the Kepong incinerator issue.

In her simplistic mind, she inexpertly compared incinerators to landfills, leading her to the conclusion that incinerators are better, hence we should go buy an incinerator and ignore the BIG question on everyone’s mind, especially the anti-incinerator team.

The big question is: Do we need an incinerator?

Do we need an incinerator when we already have the Bukit Tagar sanitary landfill to solve all of Kuala Lumpur’s waste problems for the next 60 years?

Why do we need to spend RM1 billion buying an incinerator just to show the whole world we have the latest technology, and by so doing, introduce new health risks to the people?

Landfilling is the oldest form of waste disposal in the world, but it is certainly not archaic, especially when it comes to sanitary landfills.

It is still the most economical waste disposal method in the world. Many countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and even Hong Kong practise 100% landfilling.

Sharifah, may I suggest you take a visit to the Bukit Tagar sanitary landfill without delay before you write anymore about this subject matter and embarrass yourself further?

You can also visit the Bukit Tagar Sanitary Landfill website at

“Environmental Engineer” is an FMT reader.

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

Landfills worst choice, not incinerators