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Landfill pollution can be cut by 30% by separating waste

on 02 November 2010.

WASTE segregation at its source for composting and recycling is the key to addressing pollution from landfills.

“If this is done, less than 30% waste generated will end up on landfills and this help to increase the landfills’ lifespan by three times,” said Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) Centre for Technology Transfer and Consultancy director Prof Lau Seng.

“About 35% of the waste generated are organic in nature and if you take that out to do composting you can save more than 30% of waste being transported to landfills.”

“Organic waste produces leachate which is toxic as it contains organic matter, heavy metals and a high level of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), and therefore poses a risk to waterways,” he said.

“Presently, the water treatment plants in the state are not designed to remove these pollutants,” he told StarMetro when asked to comment on the Auditor-General’s Report 2009 which stated that Sarawak’s solid waste management system was below par and caused environmental pollution.

The report said 44 of the 49 landfills comprised open landfills and the system and maintenance of open landfills did not comply with the standards set by Natural Resources and Environment Board.

Lau, who heads a joint-study between Unimas and Trienekens Sarawak on Characterisation of Municipal Solid Waste in Sarawak, said the study also showed that about 30% of waste comprised all sorts of plastics and 16% papers/card boxes, of which should be separated at the source and recycled, instead of dumped into landfills.

He said practising composting and recycling only required a change in people’s attitude and willingness to separate their waste at home and these would go a long way in reducing the volume of waste and toxicity.

“If we want to be a developed nation, we need to have a developed attitude,” he pointed out.

Lau suggested that those with gardens at home could either bury their organic waste or put them into compost bins which looked like ordinary bins with holes for air circulation.

He conceded that there was still a lack of recycling facilities in the state which could be discouraging the public from practising recycling but that should not be an excuse for not putting in any effort at all.

The two-year study would be completed by end of this year with waste samples taken from Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri, he added.

Extracted from The Star.

Arkib Berita

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia Telephone: +60 82581000/+60 82581388, Fax: +60 82 665 088, Email: corporate@unimas.my
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