Exploring Waste Potential: Revolutionizing Fecal Waste Treatment in Malaysia

DetailsWednesday, 29 May 2024
DetailsFarida Hanum ST., MT.

"Amidst the hustle and bustle of urban Malaysia lies an often overlooked yet critical challenge for environmental sustainability: fecal waste treatment. This is all the more urgent, with the threat of environmental viability looming over Malaysia. As is well known, the country is struggling with wastewater management. The impact of such inadequate treatment is immense, forcing a shift towards more comprehensive solutions."

This phenomenon concerned a group of researchers comprising Farida Hanum from the Universitas Sumatera Utara, Indonesia; Lee Chang Yuan, Hirotsugu Kamahara, Yoichi Atsuta, Takeshi Yamada, and Hiroyuki Daimon from Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan; and Hamidi Abdul Aziz from Universiti Sains Malaysia. They conducted research to uncover waste management and utilization as well as its obstacles in Malaysia.

Farida explained that Malaysia is facing severe challenges in managing environmental utilization, especially in urban areas. Densely populated settlements and concrete buildings are barriers to management. In addition, conventional obstacles in technical, political, and economic issues and the characteristics of fecal waste in Malaysia also raise additional concerns regarding feasibility.

“Malaysia’s Department of Environment (DOE) categorizes sludge from wastewater treatment plants as scheduled waste, requiring disposal under strict guidelines. Most states’ wastewater management responsibility falls to Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) Sdn Bhd, which oversees an extensive infrastructure network. However, challenges remain,” says Farida.

Traditional disposal methods, such as dumping into landfills and incineration, pose environmental risks and produce ash and sludge. This fact calls for more effective and efficient efforts. Farida said anaerobic digestion is a promising option for addressing the problem. “This process offers comprehensive waste management for the biotransformation of organic matter,” she says.

As the shadow of climate change looms and fossil fuel reserves dwindle, the Malaysian Government supports renewable energy. This circumstance positions anaerobic digestion as a priority program in the green agenda. Anaerobic digestion is emerging as a bright spot, offering a multi-stage process. The process utilizes simultaneous digestion of diverse substrates to enhance methane production. By combining fecal and organic waste, such as food waste, anaerobic digestion increases biogas production and overcomes logistical and economic barriers.

However, Farida explained that its potential is not yet maximized and requires research and development to optimize its efficiency. Technical complexity and high capital development considerations also hamper the process. In addition, skilled professionals are needed to operate and maintain anaerobic digestion plants. However, despite these challenges, there are opportunities for transformation.

The journey towards sustainable septage treatment in Malaysia is challenging but full of opportunities. Anaerobic digestion and innovative digestion practices are vital to unlocking the country’s sewage potential. “Malaysia needs to set its path towards environmental sustainability more firmly through collaboration, research, and development. This will be the foundation of its success. With concerted efforts, the country can pave the way to a greener and cleaner future, one digestion at a time,” Farida concluded.

Research Article

Detail Paper

JournalWaste Biorefineries: Future Energy, Green Products and Waste Treatment
TitleTreatment of Sewage Sludge Using Anaerobic Digestion in Malaysia: Current State and Challenges
AuthorsFarida Hanum, Lee Chang Yuan, Hirotsugu Kamahara, Hamidi Abdul Aziz, Yoichi Atsuta, Takeshi Yamada, Hiroyuki Daimon
Author Affiliations
  1. Department of Environmental and Life Sciences, Toyohashi University of Technology, Toyohashi, Japan
  2. Department of Chemical Engineering, Universitas Sumatera Utara, Medan, Indonesia
  3. Institute for Global Network Innovation in Technology Education, Toyohashi University of Technology, Toyohashi, Japan
  4. School of Civil Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Nibong Tebal, Malaysia

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