Giving Waste a Second Chance: Public Awareness and Youth Empowerment

Giving Waste a Second Chance: Public Awareness and Youth Empowerment

Shlrene Quaik (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia), Asha Embrandiri (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia), Kaizar Hossain (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia) and Norli Ismail (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1683-5.ch009
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Overpopulation is no doubt worldwide concern as it brings different problems to urbanization process as well as environment. Waste is number one side product of overpopulation. Waste generation is ever increasing in both urban and suburban area and has led to many environmental issues. Many of the waste generated have potential to be transformed into value added products. By recycling, reusing and re-purposing these wastes, we are actually reducing the amount of waste produced and at the same time helping to solve waste disposal problem as many of the wastes exhibit strong energy producing potential. Overpopulation may be an issue of its own; nonetheless, it also provides us an army of human power in tackling environmental issues. Population is a valuable asset. The potential of that amount of man power, especially youth, combining with various awareness campaigns and 3R campaigns introduced by government and NGO are important in targeting these problems.
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Disposal of high quantity of waste is an unparalleled environmental issue. Increase in population directly influences the waste generated per unit area as percentage of the population increases especially in urban areas. More and more people are moving into the city referable to economic activities, social activities and the quality of life available here. With increasing rate of population and urbanization, land available is not enough for proper waste disposal. This means the location of the residential area is getting closer to the vicinity of waste disposition area such as landfills and waste incinerators, which is in fact inevitable. Exposure to harmful pollutants around the area of waste disposal site especially waste incineration plants also raises health concerns.

There is no more doubt that increase in population translates to higher generation of waste (Agamuthu and Fauziah, 2011) and waste generation strongly varies depending on economic and geographical status of an area. Till 1993, waste generation in Malaysia was between 0.34-0.85kg per capita per day. However, at present, in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, waste generation of household waste per capita is 0.80-1.30 kg per day (Abdul Jalil, 2010). In 2006, methods of waste disposition in Malaysia were:

  • Recycling (5%),

  • Composting (1%),

  • Inert landfill (3.2%),

  • Sanitary landfill (30.90%) and

  • Other disposal sites (59.40%).

However, the government is targeting to increase recycling to 22% and composting to 8% by the year 2020 (Periathamby et al., 2009). Composition of waste in Malaysia is mainly composed of municipal solid waste (64%). A heavy percentage of the municipal solid wastes is recyclables (80%) and is disposed at landfills (Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG), 2006). Landfill is still the most commonly used method of solid waste management in Malaysia due to its cost effectiveness (The Ingenieur, 2009). Nevertheless, landfill may soon give problem as it approaching its maximum capacity and simultaneously constructing a new landfill site is out of the question due to land scarcity with the increase in population (Latifah et al., 2009; Moh & Abd Manaf, 2014).

Recycling is the collection and processing of waste separation, the result being new consumer products. Recovery is the separation of mixed waste, with the final outcome of producing new raw materials for industries. Recently, waste-to-energy approach is emerging as a promising way of handing ever rising amount of waste especially in developing countries. Waste-to-energy (WTE) approach uses thermal and biological conversion technologies to release potential of usable energy contained in solid waste (Johri et al., 2011). Exceeding 800 thermal WTE plants are operating worldwide (Martin, 2012). Country such as Germany is using WTE to handle 35% of the total waste treatment (EU’s average is 24%) and waste that was land filled comprises only 1% of the total waste (Eurostat, 2014). Population hike changes waste generation pattern and we are in need of more proficient waste handling methods and should not rely solely on one method. Malaysia has started the implementation of WTE mainly for agricultural waste and forestry residues in recent decades. It provides alternative for renewable energy for Malaysia (Tan et al. 2014). However, implementation of WTE on municipal solid waste is still not common. Nevertheless, agricultural industries in Malaysia are generating tonnes of waste that have massive potential as resource material for waste-to-energy approach.

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