Treatment of organic wastes in malaysia . Problems and Prospects

Solid waste is one of the biggest environmental problems in Malaysia (Hassan et al. 1995). The amount generated continues to increase in response to rapid increase in population and accelerated urbanisation and industrialization processes. Immediate and long-term strategies are required to ensure that the country’s rapid economic growth is not achieved at the expense of massive pollution costs and degraded environment.

Solid waste management is no longer a simple task. It requires both immediate and long-term actions and management strategies. Single disposal alternative such as sanitary landfill is inadequate given the shortage of new economical sites and wastage of potential resources that could be recovered. Integrated waste management must be flexible and should incorporate waste reduction, recycling, processing and treatment in an optimal manner to minimise costs and negative environmental impacts.

One of the challenges faced in many developing countries like Malaysia is to deal with the organic residues. This is due to the fact that more than 50 percent of the waste produced, particularly from relatively low income areas, are organic. Organic wastes can be easily decomposed and if they are not treated properly, they could pose negative impacts on the environment. Organic wastes have high economic values (Hassan et al., 1998). If proper treatment systems are employed, the problems related to solid waste disposal could be avoided or reduced. This paper discusses the problems and prospects of treating organic wastes in Malaysia. It presents technical and economic feasibility of selected treatment technologies of organic wastes.

Present and future generation of wastes

In Malaysia and also in many other developing countries, periodic analysis of waste generated is not carried out and this normally results in an inaccurate and outdated database. The latest information about solid waste generation rate in Malaysia was reported in 1991. Based on this data, a forecast of waste generation in Malaysia up to the year 2020 is summarised in Table 1 and the composition of waste generated in selected cities are summarised in Table 2.

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