space
About UNEP
space
space
United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
top image
space
space space space
space
space

State of Waste Management in South East Asia


III WASTE PROCESSING - Current Waste Management Practices

A. Municipal Solid Waste

The cost for solid waste management are high and are mainly for collection and transport, which is borne by the public sector, but with a growing trend for contracting or privatization as practiced in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Collection and transport are labor intensive as well as capital intensive, requiring motorized fleets. Collection is either door-to-door or using containers and communal bins. All medium and large cities would have administrative structures for providing collection services. Singapore has a collection rate of more than 90 percent while in Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur the rate is more than 80 percent. In Indonesia, collection rates have been improved through a pre-collection system at villages, which deposit their MSW at transfer or temporary storage facilities. Unfortunately, collection services are not extended to the poor and informal settlements which do not pay or are inaccessible.

Most of the cities in Thailand use non-compaction trucks for daily collection, with few cities using compaction trucks and hauling trucks. The collection and efficiency is improving with an average collection of 70 percent – 80 percent of wastes generated.

Municipal waste management practices in the ASEAN region include the following:

  1. Recycling/recovery
  2. Composting
  3. Incineration
  4. Landfilling/open dumping

1. Recycling/recovery

MSW may contain the following materials, which are considered recyclables:

  • Ferrous and non-ferrous metals
  • Construction debris
  • Scrap tires
  • Paper/cardboard
  • Plastics
  • Textiles (including cloth and leather)
  • Glass
  • Wood/timber
  • Animal bones/feathers
  • Waste oil and grease
  • Cinders/ashes

Varying percentages of municipal solid waste are collected for recycling. In Year 2001, for instance, about 44.4 percent of solid waste in Singapore was recycled, compared to about 1 percent in Malaysia. In the Philippines the percentage of recycling and reuse was 12 percent. Of the above-listed materials, the increasing amounts of plastic waste is a big issue in most of the ASEAN countries.

In the middle- to low-income cities of ASEAN, there exists a long-standing practice of informal source separation and recycling of materials. This has led to the development of enterprises for the gathering, trading and reprocessing of materials, e.g. in Bangkok and Jakarta. In Vietnam, waste recovery and recycling activities at city the level are supported by the national ministries although many of these are family businesses. A high percentage of operators are women, as high as 50 percent as in Ho Chi Min City. However, in places like Phnom Penh, waste pickers comprise a large percentage of children below 18 years of age (51 percent in 1998), both in the streets and in the dumpsites. Cooperatives have been formed to assist and improve this informal sector, for instance, in Bangkok and Manila.

In most countries, the volume of both the formal and informal sources of separation and recycling of most non-organic wastes (manufactured materials) is significant. However, since industries would only be interested to use recycled materials when they cost less than the virgin materials, the practice of recycling is so market-driven that recycling has become selective. The disposal of those unselected recyclables remains a problem.

Informal waste separation or waste picking takes place in three ways:

  1. At source - this is in large urban areas, e.g., commercial areas or residential areas with apartments/high-rise buildings for high income earners. Here waste pickers sort out the waste before the authorized collection vehicle arrives.
  2. During collection – when the collectors segregate recyclable materials during loading and store them inside the truck or on the sides of the vehicles.
  3. At the disposal site – where the waste pickers often live on or near the dumps. However, they risk the danger of potential slides and fires.

While waste picking means survival for waste pickers the methods of uncontrolled waste picking can reduce the efficiency of the formal collection system and can be detrimental to health due to exposure to biological pathogens, e.g., during sorting when garbage bags get broken and produce spillage.

2. Composting

Composting is not well practiced in ASEAN. Household organic wastes, including wastes from the restaurants, are often collected for animal feed, e.g. in Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam. However, a few imported mechanical composting plants have been installed in Bangkok and Hanoi. But these are either not working or are not operating at full capacity for a number of reasons, such as:

  • High operating and maintenance costs
  • Poor maintenance and operation of facilities
  • Incomplete separation of non-compostables, such as, plastics and glass
  • High cost of compost compared to commercial fertilizers

3. Incineration

Another waste treatment method that is practiced especially in Singapore is incineration where 90 percent of non-recyclable MSW is incinerated. Final disposal of waste is at landfills where 10 percent of non-recyclable MSW is deposited. Singapore has four government-owned and operated incinerators for the disposal of solid waste that is not recycled.

Malaysia has one existing municipal incinerator in a local township and has plans to establish another in Kuala Lumpur due to an increasing solid waste generation but reducing availability of land for open dumping and landfilling. Indonesia and Thailand also have one municipal waste incinerator in their capital cities.

However, controversy remains over the soundness of incineration as a waste treatment technology because of greenhouse gas emissions from incinerators. Local opposition to incineration, e.g. in Bangkok, is growing. And in the Philippines, incineration has been completely banned under the new law on solid waste management (RA 9003).

The practice of informal incineration or open burning is, however, still prevalent, not only in the rural areas where waste collection is rare but also in peri-urban and urban areas.

4. Landfilling

Landfills are generally the cheapest and most common disposal method for MSW. An exception is a large city like Singapore, which faces rising disposal costs due to exhaustion of traditional disposal sites, stricter environmental controls and greater waste quantities, thus requiring other methods like incineration to reduce the volume of waste for final disposal. In Thailand, the most preferred disposal method is through the sanitary landfill, of which there are 95 currently operating and 36 more under construction. In the other developing countries, open dumping is the common practice, i.e., MSW is dumped on swamplands and low-lying areas, which are eventually reclaimed for development. In Kuala Lumpur, for example, the development of Sri Petaling was on and around a filled former tin mine.

The problems associated with landfills, even with those that are clay-lined, include high water table, groundwater contamination and gas migration. High percentages of organics and plastics have led to breakouts of fire due to methane gas generation, e.g. in Bangkok and Manila. But there are well-designed and reasonably well-operated sanitary landfills, for example, in Jakarta and Bandung, Indonesia. In places like Jayapura and Irian Jaya in Indonesia, wastes are generally disposed of by open dumping, burning or disposing to the sea.

In many of the ASEAN countries collection of MSW is inadequate in varying degrees, especially in the rural areas. While data is not fully available it is observable that some MSW is thrown directly into the waterways. Large amounts of MSW may be also found indiscriminately dumped by the roadside. But in the countrysides, the amount of MSW dumped openly is not known. There are a number of factors why countries do not have sanitary landfills. These are: lack of finance, land acquisition problems, insufficient collection and disposal fees and unqualified or non-licensed operators. Very often there is great difficulty in acquiring appropriate landfill sites because of the “not-in-my-backyard” or NIMBY syndrome and an unsuitable soil profile if the site happens to be near the urban center.

Where there are licensed contractors or licensed waste collectors, the likelihood of a proper and adequate waste collection, treatment and disposal system is greater. For instance, in Singapore, waste management is quite efficient because all waste collectors and recycling plants are licensed, while the landfills are owned and operated by the government.

In Malaysia, municipal waste collection, treatment and disposal services have also been privatized but with Government supervision. Two out of four consortia are collecting solid waste in 26 out of 145 local authorities. Wastes are deposited in government-owned landfills, which are managed by a private consortium.

An overview of the disposal methods applied by selected ASEAN countries for municipal solid waste is given in Table 6. The most prevalent method is open dumping.

Table 6: Disposal Methods for Municipal Solid Waste in Selected ASEAN Countries

Country
Disposal Methods (%)
Composting
Open dumping
Landfilling
Incineration
Others
Indonesia
15
60
10
2
13
Malaysia
10
50
30
5
5
Myanmar
5
80
10
-
5
Philippines
10
75
10
-
5
Singapore
-
-
30
*(10 in 2002)
70
*(90 in 2002)
-
Thailand
10
**(0 in 2001)
65
**(67 in 2001)
5
**(32 in 2001)
5
**(1 in 2001)
15
**(0 in 2001)
Vietnam
10
70
-
-
20
Source: ENV 1997
*Communication with National Environment Agency officials
**Draft Annual Report, The State of Pollution, Thailand B. E.2544 (2001), Pollution Control Department 2002

 

Table of Contents
  • Brochure
  • IETC Brochure


  • International Year of Forests
  • International Year of Forests


  • World Environment Day
  • ??????


  • UNEP Campaign
  • UNite to Combat Climate Change