DAP calls on the government to review incineration measures for waste management

Press Statement
by John Chung

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The government should review its pursuit of incineration measures for waste management and give consideration to other alternatives that are more viable following the expert advice by a New York university professor Dr. Paul Cornett during the meeting of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in Penang yesterday.

Dr. Cornett's view that incineration is not a key solution to sustainable waste management due to its costly effect on the economy and the environment has confirmed the belief of many Malaysians and NGOs who are not in favour of the construction of incinerators, particularly large scale ones, of the potentially harmful consequences of incineration.

GAIA, an international NGO alliance with over 320 members in more than 60 countries, has warned that incinerators are major sources of dioxin, mercury and a host of other toxic pollutants. Dioxins are extremely toxic and persistent compounds that accumulate in the global environment, concentrating in meat, dairy and ultimately humans. Dioxins are linked to a variety of health impacts, ranging from developmental and reproductive disorders to cancer.

GAIA's vision and mission statement which is available at reads:

"GAIA is a worldwide alliance of non-profit organizations and individuals who recognize that our planet's finite resources, fragile biosphere and the health of people and other living beings are endangered by polluting and inefficient production practices and health-threatening disposal methods.

"We oppose incinerators, landfills, and other end-of-pipe interventions.

"Our ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. Our goal is the implementation of clean production, and the creation of a closed-loop, materials-efficient economy where all products are reused, repaired or recycled back into the marketplace or nature."

This is what the DAP has been trying to say for the past half year that the government should heed the many reasonable objections to incineration and consider other means of effective waste management.

Besides greater emphasis on recycling and composting in line with the call made by the Local Government and Housing Ministry, we have been trying to propose the use of proven, sustainable and more environmentally benign waste disposal technologies such as Material Recovering Facilities (MRF) and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF).

The MRF process segregates different recyclable materials such as PVC, glass, aluminium, iron, plastic, paper and other reusable materials before turning all other non-recyclable garbage into solid pellets that can be used as building materials whereas the RDF converts the combustible matter in solid waste into fuel pellets that can be used as a source of energy.

The DAP therefore urges the government to give serious consideration to adopting MRF and RDF and other waste disposal alternatives that are more economically and environmentally viable. The huge amount of money that has to be spent on the construction and maintenance of huge incinerator plants can be better utilised for other alternative measures that can ensure sustainable waste management.


* John Chung, DAP National Publicity Bureau Assistant Secretary