Publication : The Star Online (10 Feb 2015)

Publication : The Star Online (10 Feb 2015)

Green initiative to cut rubbish at landfills and reduce carbon footprint

Source : The Star Online (Published on 10th February 2015)

By Edward Rajendra

The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) canteen operator is tossing fruit peels, vegetable stems, food scraps and used tea bags into a mobile anaerobic digester (AD) to create pollution-free methane gas (CH4). The gas is used to cook for the lunch crowd daily.

Already on its third week, the new innovative approach by the council to turn biodegradable waste into cooking gas, gives hope that food waste may have a better future than rotting at landfills and producing harmful greenhouse gases.


Organics and other food scraps have long been just part of MBPJ’s trash pile but this pilot programme “Waste to Wealth”, in collaboration with CH Green Company, allows a smarter choice to organic waste disposal.

Tools of the trade: The biogas and liquid compost is produced in the AD machine (in green) that occupies a parking bay behind MBPJ’s canteen.



Canteen operator Zamri Taib said the biogas project had saved time and cost.

“All the food scraps including the leftovers are put into the AD machine. I have a bone-crusher machine where fish head, chicken and mutton bones are ground into granules before being added to the AD machine.

“Less food scrap goes into our bins and this saves time in doing extra cleaning up,” he said.

He said that the biogas burned with a blue flame and the heat was more intense.

“Over the past week I have used the biogas and found it good for frying purposes. Price of a gas tank is RM28 and with the biogas, I get to save. But when the gas runs out, I use regular gas,” he said.

Zamri said the AD capacity of 30kg had to be doubled to ensure more gas was generated.

Not going to waste: Old rice, vegetables leaves, stems and even tea bags are put into the AD machine that turns into biogas and compost.



“For the liquid compost, we have noticed that the council workers use it for the plants and most of them have begun flowering.

“No smell is emanated from the liquid compost and this is good compared to earlier situations where the trash with food scraps left overnight in the bin would emit a foul smell,” he said.

Council Solid Waste and Public Cleaning Department assistant officer Muhammad Hariz Sufian Abd Razak said he supported the AD method to reduce the amount of waste because the community composting programme had seen few takers.

“Using the AD approach has a number of benefits where it helps to reduce the amount of trash going to landfills and this curbs transport costs.

“Diesel costs and carbon emissions are reduced and the council saves on spending. Lifespan of landfills can also be extended,” he said.


Valuable by-product: The liquid compost that is alkaline-based can be used to soften the ground and act as fertiliser.



Muhammad Hariz, who supervised the programme, said the current AD machine cost less than RM1 of electricity a day as it is operated for half-an-hour.

“Apart from the half-an-hour of operating the agitator to churn the food scraps, the rest is taken care of by the microbes,” he said.

He added that the liquid compost that was alkaline was being used to soften the ground for landscaping and as fertiliser.

PJ Low Carbon City Task Force chief Lee Lih-Shyan said CH Green Company had loaned the AD machine for six months to the council for free, where the canteen operator would test if it was practical to generate biogas and liquid compost.

“Curbing waste from reaching the landfills is a daunting task for Petaling Jaya.


Not going to waste: Hariz showing the liquid compost that is collected that would be used to water the plants.


“Our council contractors collect an estimated 400 tonnes of garbage per day and 45% or 180 tonnes are food waste. Based on observation, we see a lot of stale rice, vegetable stems and fruit peels in the trash can.


“On being told of the AD generator, our committee decided to test a small-scale machine. All the kitchen waste and leftovers go into a 30kg AD generator.


“With the help of microbes the organic waste is broken down to create biogas and liquid nutrient-rich alkaline compost, an energy source” he added.


Lee, who is also the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleaning Department director, said food scrap was usually wet and likely to release a foul odour.


“We believe the AD generator is a quicker method to turn organic waste into compost and biogas minus the unpleasant smell and leachate,” he said.


CH Green chief executive officer Ang Lee Kaw said the firm wanted to educate people that AD could be a better method to extract value from food scrap than to simply discard it.


“Waste to Wealth programme is new and the amount of biogas and liquid compost is for small-scale production.


“Our aim is to show MBPJ that the production of biogas can be increased to a scale that matters and food scraps will no longer go to waste.


“We need to make the programme at the council’s canteen sustainable and push the scale higher until it can be adopted for larger usage such as at a food court,” he said.


Ang said that food waste in AD machines would reduce methane emissions and produce energy to defray operating costs.


“If MBPJ wants to cut emissions, cut waste and even cut costs, composting is a proven way to go about it,” he added.


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