Solid waste in Malaysia.
What is Solid Waste?
Solid waste can be defined as the useless and unwanted products in the
solid state derived from the activities of and discarded by society.
Just as children depend on their parents for shelter and sustainability, mankind depends on the environment to sustain their lives. The environment consists of every single living being on Earth, from the smallest microorganism to the giant whale that swims in the depths of the ocean.
Solid waste is one of the three major environmental problems in Malaysia. It plays a significant role in the ability of Nature to sustain life within its capacity. Currently, over 23,000 tonnes of waste is produced each day in Malaysia. However, this amount is expected to rise to 30,000 tonnes by the year 2020. The amount of waste generated continues to increase due to the increasing population and development, and only less than 5% of the waste is being recycled.
Despite the massive amount and complexity of waste produced, the standards of waste management in Malaysia are still poor. These include outdated and poor documentation of waste generation rates and its composition, inefficient storage and collection systems, disposal of municipal wastes with toxic and hazardous waste, indiscriminate disposal or dumping of wastes and inefficient utilization of disposal site space.
Rivers represent the lease of life which pulses through the earth.It is a finite and only source of water. In Malaysia, there are almost 1800 rivers. Sadly, more than half of these rivers have been polluted and destroyed. Improper solid waste management contributes greatly to river pollution.
Improper solid waste management (SWM) also contributes to climate change – decomposing waste produces methane and production of new products to meet demand emits greenhouse gases and utilizes natural resources.
Issues & Problems
Litter at the roadside, drains clogged up with rubbish and rivers filled with filthy garbage definitely indicate that solid waste is a major environmental problem in Malaysia. Rapid development, population increase and changes in consumption pattern directly (and indirectly) resulted in the generation of enormous amount of waste, ranging from biodegradable to synthetic waste.
As of the year of 2008, 23,000 tonnes of waste is produced each day in Malaysia, with less than 5% of the waste is being recycled. In Selangor alone, waste generated in 1997 was over 3000t/day and the amount of waste is expected to rise up to 5700t/day in the year 2017(Yachio Engineering, 2000 cited in Muhd Noor Muhd Yunus, 2000). An alarming 19% of waste ends up in our drains, which then causes flash floods and drainage blockage. This situation has been and will be reducing our environmental capacity to sustain life.
Despite the massive amount and complexity of waste produced, the standards of waste management in Malaysia are still poor. These include outdated documentation of waste generation rates and its composition, inefficient storage and collection systems, disposal of municipal wastes with toxic and hazardous waste, indiscriminate disposal or dumping of wastes and inefficient utilization of disposal site space.
Furthermore, the lack of awareness and knowledge among Malaysian community about solid waste management (SWM) issues, and being ignorant about the effect that improper SWM has to us has definitely worsened the problem.
Solid Waste & Climate Change
Did you know that by managing your solid wastes properly, you can make a difference in climate change?
Climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). The manufacturing, distribution and use of products, including waste generation all result in emission of GHG that affect the Earth’s climate.
The Earth’s atmosphere contains many types of gases which includes GHG. GHG absorbs an retains heat from the Sun. They regulate the Earth’s climate by holding warmth in an atmospheric blanket around the planet’s surface. Scientists call this phenomenon as the Greenhouse Effect. Without GHG, the average temperature on Earth would be -2 °F, instead of the current 57°F. However, certain human activities have released additional GHG, and this upsets the natural atmospheric balance of GHG. Therefore, there is a direct increase in global temperature.
Solid waste affects climate change through landfill methane emission. The source of manmade methane gas is from the landfills themselves, which happens when organic waste is left to decay anaerobically .