Govt to seek more land from states to build WTE plants, says Zuraida

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / pic by ISMAIL CHE RUS

THE federal administration is expected to request for more land from state governments to meet the target of building at least one waste-to-energy (WTE) plant in each state in the next two years.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the ministry is currently assessing all the landfill sites in the country to find suitable locations for the construction of WTE plants.

She said the building of a single plant unit would require a land area of between 10 and 20 acres (8.1ha).

“The ministry hopes that in two years, we can shift to WTE in phases and across all states. At the moment, we are conducting a review on all landfills to see which are suitable for WTE plants.

“Once we are done with this, we will provide a guideline for each state on how many WTE plants should be built in the state,” she said during the Minister’s Question Time session in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

She was responding to Steven Choong Shiau Yoon (Tebrau-Pakatan Harapan) who requested the ministry to state its direction on waste management in Malaysia.

Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby later, Zuraida said the government will first assess existing landfill sites to identify those that can be repurposed before making the necessary requests to state governments for additional land.

She said landfill sites with unusable land of 10-20 acres will be converted into WTE plants.

“If there is no landfill area available, we will ask the respective state government to give us the land.

“But it has to be strategic, according to the logistics and the needs where it can cater to the whole state or the areas designated for that WTE,” Zuraida said.

Zuraida added that the ministry will also propose to the Cabinet to allow the ministry to manage the selection process for the technology and the operator of the WTE via request for proposal (RFP).

“At the moment, we have a special technical task force on the WTE. Every proposal that comes in, the task force will assess the technology, the system, the mechanism and everything else, and they will give us a report whether the company passes or fails.

“If they fail, they will be eliminated from the RFP process,” she said, adding that members of the committee include representatives from the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change.

On a separate development, Zuraida said the ministry also plans to build a centralised waste park across several key states to place all recycling factories in a designated area for easy monitoring and legal enforcement.

“In two years, we are going to have a centralised waste park where all the recycling factories will be put in one area for easier monitoring and management by the ministry.

“After those two years, anything outside of the waste park will be considered illegal and it would be easier for the local government to take action and close them down. They will have no reason not to apply and move their locations to the designated areas that have been assigned by the respective states,” she said.

Zuraida said emphasis will be given to Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perak and Johor which are very active in the recycling of plastics.

“This is my priority, at the moment. I already spoke to the chief ministers to identify a place or land where they can designate the location for the waste. Everything that concerns recycling of plastics should be stationed there,” Zuraida said.