Gabungan Anti-Insinerator Kebangsaan (GAIK) would like to alert the public that an incinerator plant is being proposed at the Jeram Integrated Solid Waste Management Centre in Mukim Jeram, District of Kuala Selangor, Selangor. The proposed project is a 1,200 ton per day capacity moving grate incinerator located next to the existing Jeram Sanitary Landfill, and touted as a waste-to-energy plant.
The notification and executive summary of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the proposed project are currently being displayed at the website of the Department of Environment (DOE). The full EIA report of the project can be accessed online at https://www.europasia.com.my/projects/eia-report-jeram/.
The deadline for submission of public feedback of the EIA is 5 June 2020, and we object to the dateline as it would exclude some members of the public from reviewing the report. Hence we urge the DOE not to carry out any form of public review of EIAs during the movement control order (MCO) because not everyone can access reports online.
In addition, we are against the promotion of incineration or so-called “waste-to-energy” technologies. According to the EIA, the Jeram incinerator will incinerate all the waste without prior waste separation. Treating energy as the focus for waste treatment is not only unsustainable from the point of energy economics, but also distorts waste management, since it does not automatically lead to waste minimisation in general. The truth, however, is that incinerators actually waste energy.
When incinerating materials that could be reused or recycled, incinerators destroy the energy-saving potential of putting those materials to better use. Recycling, for instance, saves three to five times the energy that waste incinerator power plants generate. Incinerators are also net energy losers when the embodied energy of the burned materials is taken into account. For these reasons, “waste-to-energy” plants would be more aptly named “waste-of-energy” plants. Our country has an energy surplus of 30% more than what we need. This WTE will only be polluting our air with no benefit of the energy generated. Furthermore, we taxpayers still have to pay for it.
We are disappointed that the government is still going on the path of incineration despite experiencing problems operating even existing small scale incinerators in Pulau Pangkor, Cameron Highlands, Pulau Langkawi, among others. In the past few years, we have heard of complaints from surrounding communities of black smoke emitted from the incinerators and waste piling up at the sites.
These are visible, but even worse are the variety of toxic discharges to the air, water and ground that are significant sources of a range of harmful pollutants, including dioxin and other hazardous substances that are well-known for their toxic impacts on human health and the environment. Many of these toxins enter the food supply and can concentrate up through the food chain.
Some claim that incineration will save landfill space. This statement is proven wrong in Singapore as there are still large landfills although the country has incinerators. Besides, landfills are still needed to dispose of ash generated by the incinerators.
Taking into consideration the fallacy of waste-to-energy plants, Malaysia’s bad track record of maintaining even small capacity incinerators and the potential harm to public health and the environment, GAIK urges the Malaysian government to reject this proposed incinerator in Jeram and other sites in Malaysia.
The Malaysian government should move forward Zero Waste strategies that will prevent waste at source, reduce and eliminate toxics, promote sustainable consumption, intensify safe recycling and composting, uphold environmental justice, create jobs and ensure a clean, safe, healthy environment and communities.
Note to Editor: Gabungan Anti-Insinerator Kebangsaan (GAIK) is a coalition of individuals, community groups and non-governmental organizations fighting incinerator projects in Malaysia. The coalition includes the Consumers’ Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia. We strive for Zero Waste.