Wednesday, December 8, 2010

International Recognition for Malaysian Waste Technology

Top Plant: Kajang Waste-to-Energy Plant, Semenyih, Malaysia

Owner/operator: Core Competencies Sdn Bhd/Recycle Energy Sdn Bhd

At Malaysia’s first waste-to-energy plant, municipal solid waste (MSW) is converted into refuse-derived fuel for use in an integrated steam power plant. This facility was designed to achieve the twin objectives of environmentally friendly MSW disposal and generating renewable power.

Malaysia is a multicultural smorgasbord of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and British influences. This fusion of different cultures has helped to promote an entrepreneurial economy that embraces modern development. To meet the electrical needs of this dynamic country, the private sector is turning to new generation technologies. Commissioned in 2009, Kajang Waste-to-Energy Plant, which is located approximately 13 miles from the national capital Kuala Lumpur, is an example of such innovation.

The waste-to-energy (WTE) facility consists of the refuse-derived fuel (RDF) plant, which prepares the fuel, and the steam power plant. The facility has the capacity to process approximately 1,100 U.S. tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day into RDF in fluff form and then use that fuel to produce approximately 8 MW of electricity daily. Electricity produced powers the RDF plant, and the remainder is sold to the national power grid.

Malaysian Electric Power Industry

Malaysia has a population of 25,715,819 (July 2010 estimates) and is considered to be a middle-income country. Since the 1970s, it has transformed itself from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy, which includes high technology industries, medical technology, and pharmaceutical manufacturing, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) World Factbook. According to the CIA’s research, estimates of 2007 electrical production and consumption in Malaysia were approximately 103.2 billion kWh and 99.25 billion kWh. Recent statistics also show that Malaysia annually exports approximately 2.268 billion kWh (2007 estimates).


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plastic Conundrum

The whole plastic bag issue is a hot topic at the moment. I heard on the radio the other day that as a result of Penang's decision to ban plastic bags, the black garbage bag manufacturers are looking forward to increased production as people tend to use the plastic shopping bags to put their garbage in. Banning plastic bags seems like a sensible idea on the surface, but as the post below from SAMPAH points out, what is the alternative and is it really going to make a difference?


In our concerted effort to promote a conducive environment, a “war” seems to be waging between paper bags and plastic bags. It is heading towards being the flavor of the decade.

Continue reading here

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Star Performance?

I got pretty incensed over The Star newspaper's special reports on garbage this week. In fact I was so peed-off I even wrote them a letter which I'm sharing here.

I am writing in response to the special reports about waste management that appeared in the Nation section of your newspaper on November 1st and 2nd.

While I applaud any attempt to inform the public about this serious social and environmental problem, I was appalled to discover that the series of articles you ran were biased in favour of the politico-corporate cartel that has been running this industry for years. There was no mention at all of the other initiatives that are already taking place in the country which deal with municipal solid waste from a different perspective.

The articles rightly pointed out the problems associated with landfills but to suggest that incinerators are the only option is a best miseading and at worst a deliberate attempt to keep the rate-paying public misinformed.

Incinerator technology is very expensive to build and it operates on traditional non-renewable fuel which means daily running costs are not only high, but they are also unstable due to fluctuations in the global oil price.

A lot of countries that adopted incinerator technology are now moving towards a waste to energy approach to solve municipal waste problems. This approach regards garbage as a valuable resource and reclaims as much as possible in the form of reuseable items and an alternative and renewable industrial fuel which can also be used to generate electricity.

My concern is that there was no mention of this in the so-called in-depth report Don't you think the rate-paying public deserve to be told that there are alternative ways of approaching waste management that are cheaper and environmentally cleaner?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Sampah Man commeth

For those like me, who are determined to clean up
their acts, check out

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Looks like the people of West Papua need our help.
Please visit West Papua Media Alerts here and spread the word.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nuclear Energy - a cautionary tale

In early October 1957, the Windscale Nuclear Plant in Cumbria, UK, discharged 750 Tbq (terabecquerels) (20,000 curies) of radioactive material including iodine-131 into the air.

At the time, Britain was in the throes of rebuilding the nation after the Second World War and was desperately trying to cement a nuclear technology exchange agreement with the US.

As a result, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan deliberately under-played the seriousness of the fire for political expediency; the whole incident was shrouded in secrecy. In fact, it was only some 30 years later, after documents relating to the incident were declassified, that the shocking truth started to seep into the public domain .

I was five, going on six, at the time so I only have fragmented memories of it. It was quite an adventure as I recall; Mum completely covered our large dining table with blankets and curtains and we (my older sister and brother and I) lived inside this 'tent' for most of the time while the crisis was in force. The only hardship was that we didn't have fresh milk or vegetables for a while, which didn't particularly bother me as I'd never been partial to drinking milk and, like most kids of that age, I thought veggies were pretty yukky too.

It was only some years later, when Mum and I were reminiscing about the incident, that I began to grasp the seriousness of what had taken place. She explained how frightened and helpless she'd felt at the time.

Frightened, because this radioactive enemy, unlike the foe she'd stalwartly faced during the second world war, was silent, invisible, odourless and tasteless. Helpless, because the public were given very little information and advice, from the nuclear scientific fraternity and the government, on how best to protect themselves from the fallout.

So she decided to follow her well-honed instincts and hope for the best.

Those most affected by the radioactive fallout were the citizens of Seascale, where many of the reactor's workers lived. Northern Ireland was also badly affected as winds carried the invisible enemy across the Irish Sea. We lived in Manchester at the time which was on the edge of the main fallout area.

22 years later, in March 1979, the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania released 481 PBq (petrabecquerel), which is equivalent to 13 million curies of radioactive gases plus a small amount (20 curies) of the particularly dangerous iodine-131 into the environment. This led to mass anti-nuclear demonstrations across the United States which culminated in a mass rally in New York. The plant was eventually closed and subsequently millions of US dollars paid out in compensation. Ironically the American thriller filmThe China Syndrome was released just 12 days before the Three Mile Island accident. Anti nuclear activist, Harvey Wasserman, reported at the time, that a plague of death and disease decimated wildlife and farm animals throughout the fallout area.

On April 26th 1986 an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine threw hot particles of nuclear fuel and the far more dangerous radioactive elements: caesium-137, iodine-131 andstrontium-90 into the atmosphere.

Iodine-131 is absorbed by the thyroid gland and causes cancer in humans.

Caesium-137 is water -soluble and chemically toxic to bone and muscle tissue in small amounts.

Strontium-90 competes with calcium and once in the bones can cause cancer and leukemia.

Worst hit was Belarus - 60 percent of the fallout landed there and 336,000 people had to be resettled. Parts of the then Soviet Union as well as Eastern, Western and Northern Europe were affected. It was by far the worst nuclear power plant accident to date and the only one so far to have reached level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which incidentally, is a high as it goes.

As far as I know the health problems related to Three Mile Island are still being debated and successive British governments never did 'come clean' about the impact of the Windscale fire on those who were exposed to the fallout. What I do know, however, is that there was a dramatic rise in spontaneous abortions, birth defects and cancers in the areas affected.

The carnage that ensued in the aftermath of the Chernobyl fire, on the other hand, has been well documented.

In Chernobyl the levels were so high that the people closest to the heart of the explosion died almost immediately, whereas those further away developed diseases believed to result from their exposure.

Whilst underplaying the health risks, one of the 'selling' points governments make for adopting nuclear energy is that it generates fewer greenhouses gases. However, just because it doesn't pollute the atmosphere or contribute to global warming doesn't mean it has zero impact on the environment.

Last year I paid a visit to Roxby Downs, Australia's biggest uranium mine operated by BHP Billiton. It was there that I started to get a perspective on just how polluting this industry is.

The documentary below says it all. It's almost a hour long so I recommend getting a cuppa before you settle down to watch it. But before you go and put the kettle on, there are a few other things to consider about nuclear energy:

Uranium and plutonium aren't renewable and will eventually deplete.

Nuclear power stations are extremely expensive to construct, operate, maintain and eventually decommission - the decommissioning of Sellafield (formerly Windscale) costs British tax payers 1.5 billion GBP per year and decommissioning takes many years to complete. More costs are incurred managing the waste in perpetuity.

Some European countries who adopted nuclear technology in the 1970s are now switching to renewable sources of energy.

Although Germany widely adopted nuclear energy, today half as much of their electricity is now being generated from renewable energy sources rather than nuclear.

Experts in the nuclear energy industry predict that by 2020 renewable energy will be significantly cheaper than nuclear.

Click to watch

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Thanks to Malaysia Today for flagging this story

from Sarawak Report

Saturday, September 25th, 2010 GMT

Victims of the Land Grab - Ibans of Kampong Ensika

In an act of breathtaking meanness and greed the multi-billionaire Taib family are seeking to deprive impoverished Ibans of one of Sarawak’s last remaining hardwood forests, for a paltry compensation of just RM250 per family.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Report has received exclusive new leaks which indicate that the Chief Minister himself stands to personally profit by a million times that amount (an estimated RM250,000,00) in corrupt backhanders from the deal.

Raziah Mahmud and Quality Concrete Holdings

This latest illegal raid on Native Customary Rights Land is being carried out by Quality Concrete Holdings Berhad, a company part owned and directed by the Chief Minister’s own sister, Raziah Mahmud. The Taibs, one of the richest families in Asia, have already started harvesting the timber, which is worth millions of US dollars, even though the majority of the villagers are refusing to accept the deal.

“We have been threatened that if we oppose this claim we are going against the government and opposing development” explained one protester, “but why does the government act like a common thief in this case and how much development can we achieve for RM 250?”.

Already driving into the forest without permission

The threatened area is a small range of hills near Sebangan not far from Kuching, consisting of 3,305 hectares of forest. The surrounding region has already been devastated by state-sponsored logging promoted by the Taibs in the 80s and 90s.

However until now it was not considered economic to tackle the raised ground, which has been farmed and hunted for generations by 16 villages of Iban dwellers.

The villagers explain that the area is carpeted by hundreds of thousands of tall trees, some of it valuable primary jungle containing hardwoods that are now painfully scarce. The Secretary General of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) Nicholas Mujah, who comes from the community, says that there are up to 700 tons of Belian, Meranti, Bulyan, Selangan, Kapur, Kempas, Tekam, Resak, Lon, Penyau, Ruan and Engkaban available per hectare. These all command top prices in the world market, although the logging of such rare timber is now internationally condemned.

The area is also a refuge for some of Sarawak’s remaining wildlife and birdlife, much of which has been wiped out by the Taibs over the past 30 years.

Corruption and conflict of interest

Conveniently on the Board - Raziah Mahmud, Taib's sister

The Iban owners of the forest say they are happy to conserve the wood for future generations and to conduct sustainable logging for their needs. However, the aging Chief Minister, who has already earned billions out of corrupt logging deals seems to have been unable to resist the prospect of grabbing more money by cutting it all down.

In this case, like so many others, he has used a relative, his sister Raziah Mahmud, to conduct the plunder. Raziah is a shareholder and paid Non-Executive Director of Quality Concrete Holdings, a public company largely owned by the family of Tiang Ming Sing and Tiang Ming Kok (the Chairman and Managing Director). She is therefore directly profiting from her connections with the Chief Minister, who hands out all timber licences.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Words Fail Me...

...From WWF

Live tiger found in luggage

Sedated cub was being smuggled with decoy tiger toys

Bangkok, Thailand. August 26, 2010 - A two-month-old tiger cub was found sedated and hidden among stuffed-tiger toys in the luggage of a woman at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Thai national was scheduled to board a Mahan Air flight destined for Iran when she had trouble checking in her oversized bag.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) staff suspected something amiss when they scanned the bag and x-ray images showed an item resembling a real cat.

Officers from the Livestock Development Department and the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department were then called in to open the bag for inspection and discovered the tranquilized cub.

Read more HERE

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dirty Business Addendum

Way back in March, I had a bit of a rant about how the Selangor State government had decided to spend RM6.5 million of taxpayers money to state controlled Worldwide Landfills Sdn. close the Sg. Kembong landfill, when 18 months earlier Chief Minister, Khalid Ibrahim, had already authorised the rehabilitation of the same landfill by another, privately-funded,company called CLEAR. Some of the comments I got highlighted some factual errors in my research and accused me of being non-journalistic (which I don't claim to be). One person even asked if I worked for CLEAR (which I don't), but none of them dealt with the real issue I was raising, which was the squandering of rate payers money to do a job that didn't need doing in the first place.

CLEAR at work in February 2010 mining a section of the Sg Kembong landfill.

Screening the garbage to separate and reclaim reusable items and Refuse Derived Fuel.

Anyway insanity prevailed and on August 1st 2010 Worldwide Landfills officially assumed control of the Sg. Kembong landfill and began work to close it off and this is what happened...

Semenyih plant closed due to high levels of ammonia


PUTRAJAYA: More than 1.2 million consumers in four districts have been hit by water supply disruptions after the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant closed due to high levels of ammonia in water drawn from Sungai Kembong.

Read the full story here

I make no bones about being a rabid supporter of Waste to Energy technology, not because of any self- interest but because it makes sense. To begin with, landfills cost a lot: First of all you need to buy a piece of land, then you have to pay someone to operate the landfill, Further costs are incurred for ongoing maintenance and then even more money is required to close the landfill when it reaches capacity. In addition to the millions this all adds up to, there are the hidden costs in terms of the environment and public health.

Waste to Energy technology doesn't cost the taxpayer a single sen. it's a privately-funded initiative where revenue is created by converting garbage to Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) and reusable items like plastics and metals. It eliminates the need for so many landfills as about 80 percent of the rubbish is reclaimed. This in turn reduces the amount of the landfill gas, methane, entering the atmosphere which has a positive impact on global warming.

Last December at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, pledged a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, provided of course, that Malaysia received transfer of technology and financing from the so called developed world.

Well, have I got news for you Mr. Najib! My friends in the garbage business have calculated that up to 13 percent of the overall 40 percent promised reduction could be achieved by adopting Waste to Energy technology nationwide. And, there's no need to import foreign technology or look for overseas investment as the technology we need to convert garbage to energy is already here and it's Malaysian.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Harnessing power from the Sun is one of the fastest growing energy sectors

The building of new renewable energy sources continued to outstrip new fossil fuel power plants in Europe and the US during 2009, a report has shown.

The UN-backed study said renewables accounted for 60% of new electricity generation capacity in Europe.

And in the US, green electricity accounted for more than half of the generation capacity built last year.

The authors added that renewables were set to outpace conventional energy sources across the globe next year.

The global status report, produced by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), said green power had reached a "clear tipping point" during 2010.

"Renewables comprised fully one-quarter of global power capacity and delivered 18% of global electricity supply in 2009," it stated in its review of the preceding 12 months.

Graph of renewable electricity capacities

The authors said the year was "unprecedented in the history of renewable energy, despite the headwinds posed by the global financial crisis, lower oil prices and slow progress with climate policy".

One of the forces propelling the sector's strong showing, they added, was the "potential to create new industries and millions of new jobs".

The findings also showed that emerging economies were also embracing the new technologies, especially China, which added 37 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity last year - more than any other nation in the world.