Thursday, January 27, 2011


Will there come a time when the generation of domestic waste will exceeded the capacity of our municipalities to recycle them. In addition, with limited land the solution of landfills will also be completely exhausted the way we are dumping into our landfills. Can anything be done?

Let’s look west for the answer….an answer born out of necessity.

Europe is a big importer of energy resources which has been proved to be a major strategic thorn in the recent past. Russia consistently flexed its muscles by refusing to supply gas to Europe. This pushed the EU to prepare plans for an unprecedented project in the African Sahara.

The European Union, in collaboration with some north African countries would set up huge solar thermal and PV power plants in the Sahara deserts. These plants would supply power to Europe and the African countries. The plan is to be extended to the Arab countries in the future. But this project seems technologically and economically unachievable. Therefore, a more realistic and reliable source of energy is required.

It is clear that the waste production would increase tremendously as the population increases and recycling and using landfills for its disposal cannot provide a complete solution. Thus if we could develop better ways of making use of waste as energy source in an environment-friendly process, a whole new dimension could be added to the concept of energy independence. Enter, domestic waste.

Domestic waste as an energy resource has not received the importance it deserves. In developing countries these energy conversion processes have been in use for quite some time, owing to their economic benefits. However, in EU, which possibly has the strictest environmental laws, use of domestic waste as fuel is not a major trend. Actually it is illegal to export waste to other countries.

Britain is struggling to recycle or landfill its domestic waste which has made the household waste, consisting of mainly recyclable organic matter, a potential energy resource. Municipalities have converted this household waste into dense fuel pellets through a series of conversion processes like densification, removal of water and pressing. The resulting pellets can be directly used to generate heat which can then be used directly for heating purposes or convert water into steam to run a steam turbine for power generation.

But through this project the energy value of the resource would be upgraded to a level from which significant benefits can be exploited. In absence of recycling or land filling this seems to be the only viable solution. Although it is one of the simplest and modest processes, it does convert waste into a higher quality product in terms of energy utilization.

Many environmentalists, however, see it as another source of carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere. The question is then what do we do about this unused waste which actually has significant energy content. The solution could lie in the refinement of the conversion processes of this waste into fuel pellets.

Domestic waste can become a major source of energy if the conversion processes are made more ‘environmental-friendly’, that is, engineered and modified in such a way that the net energy content is increased while the potential of carbon emissions decreases. Modifications may include further treatment of waste before being turned into fuel pellets or using microbial action to modify the waste’s properties to reduce its final carbon footprint.

It is clear that the waste production would increase tremendously as the population increases and recycling and using landfills for its disposal cannot provide a complete solution. Thus if we could develop better ways of making use of waste as energy source in an environment-friendly process, a whole new dimension could be added to the concept of energy independence.

Shouldn’t we in Malaysia be thinking ahead if we aim to move into developed status. In fact those states in Peninsula who have arbitrarily declared develop status should be faulted. How they manage their waste should be one of the prerequisites required to attain developed statehood.

Monday, January 10, 2011


GEORGE TOWN: Come Jan 1, plastic bags will be practically banned state-wide.

The move – an extension of the current “No Plastic Bag Day” in shopping centres and hypermarkets on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays – means that no plastic bags can be used every day by almost all business sectors.

The ruling will cover all hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, nasi kandar outlets, convenience stores including petrol kiosks and chain stores.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the move would reduce the state’s carbon footprint.

“Mini markets and sole proprietorship businesses will have to adhere to the ruling on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in order to ensure the renewal of their licences.

“Previously, they only had to adhere to the ruling on Mondays,” he said when tabling the 2011 Budget at the state legislative assembly yesterday.

Lim’s two paragraph announcement on the wide-ranging plastic ban was buried inside his 27-page budget speech, apparently catching many by surprise.

To promote the “No Plastic Bag Day” ruling, the state will distribute 500,000 brochures to create public awareness besides erecting educational billboards.

On July 1, last year, Penang became the first state to implement a “No Plastic Bag Day” ruling in shopping complexes and hypermarkets every Monday, before it was extended to Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well from Jan 2.

From July 1, 2009 to Oct 28, a total of 32.5 million plastic bags were saved under this campaign.

Shoppers who did not bring their own reusable bags were charged 20 sen for each plastic bag when making purchases.

The money collected from the sale of plastic bags went to the “Partners Against Poverty” Special Fund to help the state’s hardcore poor.


No plastic bag move necessary to cut usage

I READ with dismay “Plastic bag makers unhappy over ban implementation” (Sunday Star, Jan 2). While many parties are lauding the move first initiated by the Penang government, it has led to unhappiness among plastic bag manufacturers, who stand to lose the most as a result of the ban.

Data released by the US Environmental Protection Agency show that between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year (National Geographic News; Sept 2, 2003).

While many argue that the plastic bags in use today are recyclable, consider this fact: worldwide, less than 1% of bags are recycled. Also, a study way back in 1975 revealed that ocean-going vessels dumped almost 3.6 million kilograms of plastic annually. Worse still, the British Antarctic survey had found plastic bags floating in the sea north of the Arctic circle and as far away as the Falkland Islands. Bangladesh, China, Singapore, Rwanda and the European Union have taken initiatives to ban free plastic bags, and it is about time we do it as well. I hope state governments will hold steadfast to the ban despite pressure from various quarters. Think about the future generation.

George Town.

Tuesday January 4, 2011

Time to get serious with protecting environment

HAVING holidayed over many years in Penang, I read with interest “Pay for bags on Saturdays” (Sunday Star, Jan 2).

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the ban on free plastic bags would take effect from Saturday. The state government was “willing to lose its popularity to protect the environment for our future generations”, he said. The Chief Minister’s supposed “green” credentials seem somewhat contradictory when coming from someone who is currently presiding over a Penang landscape that is being altered at a pace never seen before in the island’s history.

This is especially so when construction is at the expense of this so-called “protected” environment.

Nobody can argue with the fact that the elimination of plastic bags will be a good thing in the longer term but I am reminded in this case of a quote: An ounce of hypocrisy is worth a pound of (political?) ambition. I hope this point will be viewed as an opportunity to get serious on all fronts and levels.

Sydney, Australia.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Dear friends,

Bees are dying off worldwide and our entire food chain is in peril. Scientists blame toxic pesticides and four European governments have already banned them. If we get the US and the EU to join the ban, other governments across the world could follow, and save bees from extinction. Sign the petition and forward this urgent appeal:

Sign the petition

Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don't just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.

Multiple scientific studies blame one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations have soared in four European countries that have banned these chemicals. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling this poison. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to join the ban -- their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.

We have no time to lose -- the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bumble bees, this is about survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now, and send it on to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers:

Bees are vital to life on earth -- every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees we could end up with no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, no oils and no cotton.

Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations -- some bee species are now extinct and others are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But new leading independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers. But, Bayer continues to export its poison across the world

This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get European and US decision-makers to take action, others will follow. It won’t be easy. A leaked document shows that the US Environmental Protection Agency knew about the pesticide’s dangers, but ignored them. The document says Bayer’s "highly toxic" product is a "major risk concern to non target insects [honey bees]".

We need to make our voices heard to counter Bayer’s very strong influence on policy makers and scientists in both the US and the EU where they fund the studies and sit on policy bodies. The real experts -- the beekeepers and farmers -- want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let's support them now. Sign the petition below, then forward this email:

We can no longer leave our delicate food chain in the hands of research run by the chemical companies and the regulators that are in their pockets. Banning this pesticide will move us closer to a world safe for ourselves and the other species we care about and depend on.

With hope,

Alex, Alice, Iain, David and all at Avaaz







Bee decline could be down to chemical cocktail interfering with brains

Bee briefing

$15 Billion Bee Murder Mystery Deepens

“Nicotine Bees" Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban

EPA memo reveals concern that pesticide causes bee deaths

Beekeepers want government to pull pesticide

British Beekeepers' Association to stop endorsing bee-killing pesticides

Pesticide industry involvement in EU risk assessment puts survival of bees at stake

Saturday, January 1, 2011

We ARE Getting THERE, People.

Jusco supermarket has been able to reduce 10 million pieces in usage of plastic bags by its customers since the launch of its 'No Plastic Bag' campaign in January 2008.

Aeon Co (M) Bhd, which runs the supermarket chain, said the reduction in plastic bag usage also helped to save energy of 14,640 litres of petroleum which would be required to produce the plastic bags.


From today, shoppers will have to bring their own tote bags as the Penang government's 'No Free Plastic Bags Every Day of the Week' campaign comes into force in the state.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the no free plastic bags ruling applied to all hypermarkets, supermarkets, pharmacies, fast food outlets, nasi kandar restaurants and convenience stores (including at petrol stations).

"Mini-markets and sole proprietorships will also be asked to do the same on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they renew their yearly licences," he told reporters after launching the campaign in Butterworth today.

continue reading HERE


If you have not made any New Year Resolutions yet, how about these?

The environment has steadily moved its way up everyone’s agenda as we are more conscious about recycling and the amount of energy and water we waste.

With so much information bombarding our senses on environmental issues, there’s no doubt about it, understanding how best to ‘green up’ our lifestyle can be difficult and confusing.

We can all learn a lesson from big business, which has realised that by applying some commonsense to how they operate, they can improve their image, satisfy the demands of increasingly ‘eco-aware’ shareholders, and meet the increasing ‘green’ demands of customers by making changes to many of the products we buy from them. However, the key factor with business is improving their ‘bottom-line’. If being greener cost them more, they would be highly unlikely to make changes.

For those of us that care about trying to ‘do our bit’ for the environment, but not necessarily classifying ourselves as ‘rainbow warriors’ or ‘tree huggers’, we face a dilemma. What can we do to make a difference, without going so far as building a composting toilet in our gardens?

There is nothing wrong about modeling our approach to being greener on how the big corporations are approaching the matter. Essentially the key way they are doing this is by cutting out waste to become more efficient.

Here are three top tips on how to green up your lifestyle and save money.

1: Reduce the Amount of Food You Throw-away

In the UK, 30% of all the food we buy is thrown away. The food waste will generally end up in landfill, where as it degrades turns into a greenhouse gas about 19 times more potent than the carbon dioxide everyone associates with global warming.

There are a number of reasons why we throw away so much of the food we buy. When food reaches ‘best before’ date, there is no need to consign it to the rubbish bin. Best before is a ‘quality’ cut off point set by the manufacturers. If the food has been stored properly it will still be edible some time after that date.

We often buy too much food at the supermarket, possibly due to those irresistible BOGOF offers (buy one get one free). Write a list and try sticking to it.

Most of us have our fridges set at the wrong temperature. For optimum performance they should be set between 3-5 degrees Celsius.

If you apply the ‘bottom-line’ rule, it is clear that if you throw-away 30% of the food you buy, you are wasting 30% of your money.

Do a quick calculation to see how much you are throwing away each year. If you spend £80 per week on food for you and your family then you’re wasting £1,248 per year of your hard-earned cash.

2: Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

Energy efficiency in the home is all about reducing waste.

Fit low energy lighting where possible. The quality, look and performance of low energy lighting is improving all the time. Fit low energy lighting to as many lighting points as possible, e.g. in the hall, bedrooms, bathrooms, landing.

You will be surprised how much money you can save by investing in making improvements to the energy efficiency of your home.

3: Replace Your Gas Guzzler

With price of a barrel of oil spiraling upwards, there has never been a more important time for us to look at the fuel efficiency of the car we drive.

With petrol at over £6 per gallon you do not need to be Albert Einstein to work out that by looking to improve the fuel efficiency of the car we drive can save us some serious money.

If you drive a car that manages 35 miles to the gallon and you drive 10,000 miles per annum, then your fuel costs will be about £1,715 per year at current petrol prices.

When you replace your car and buy a model that achieves 45 miles to the gallon then you will save about £400 in a year.

There are lots more green measures you can take, each requiring a small change in your lifestyle and personal habits. How far you go is upto you, but by addressing these three issues first, you will make a difference to the environment and save money at the same time.

Bill Bailey is freelance writer on finance, cars, travel, computers and shopping. More of Bill’s articles offering red hot tips and advice can be found at []