Displaying items by tag: circular economy
The circular economy is an environmentally friendly economic approach aimed at reducing waste of resources, maximising use of materials and allowing regeneration of the natural ecosystem.
This can prevent buildup of waste in landfills and put existing waste through a recovery process that turns it into usable heat, electricity or fuel. It also forms a closed-loop cycle that extends the lifetime of products, enables the recovery of waste and promotes more efficient and sustainable manufacturing of new products.
An efficient waste management system is part of this economic model. A centralised management facility must be fully functioning every day to receive waste at any time and should be made available in each municipal district under the supervision of a state government, always adhering to the same standard of operation controlled by the federal administration.
This can be achieved by building new integrated infrastructure in each municipality or using existing landfill management facilities. The challenge will be in the feasibility, budget and support from the government as well as locals.
Not all waste is meant to be disposed of, buried or incinerated. Some can be recycled and should be channelled to a recycling facility so that new products can be made.
To make it a reality, an efficient facility covering the collection, segregation and sorting of waste is needed. This facility must be capable of making full use of the waste. Otherweise, it should provide other ways to recover it.
First, collection can be done by introducing a department to receive waste. Contributors can be anyone, including the landfill management that wants its waste to be processed properly.
To increase the collection of waste, this facility can deploy its own logistics or invite third-party companies, including non-governmental organisations, to bring waste from other sources.
A common challenge in waste collection is the mixing of waste that can lead to pollution. This is why instead of letting everything get mixed up, waste must be immediately separated based on condition, whether for composting, reuse, refurbishing, recycling or recovery.
Wet waste, for instance, consists of organic substances that can be composted. The compost can go to the agricultural sector. However, wet plastic cannot be mixed with wet waste and must be dried first before it can be processed with other plastics.
Plastic from different products, like plastic bottles and plastic packaging, cannot be mixed as they are made with different types of polymers and must be separated before they are turned into new products.
At this stage, a sorting system is necessary to separate waste before it is recycled. Waste sorting can easily be made faster with machine learning algorithms that can differentiate material type, purity, shape, weight and colour.
But this technology is available only in developed nations. It's time to consider adopting new technologies in waste sorting to protect the environment. Separating waste from the beginning is important and this should first be done by consumers before technology can take over the sorting process, especially for existing and already mixed waste.
In future, the function of waste facilities can be diversified beyond saving the environment or for economic activities, such as providing basic needs to the needy or people affected by disasters. Some waste and items sent to these facilities are still in good condition, clean and well-functioning.
Some items are highly sought- after and can be sold in the secondhand market to generate income. Used items can be a source of aid for people, especially those affected by the recent floods. The disaster created more waste which required more work to clean up.
An efficient waste collection centre is needed to address this and support the recovery process, not only in the post-pandemic era, but also for post-disaster work.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
Published in: The New Straits Times, Thursday 27 Jan 2022
SISTEM ekonomi konvensional hari ini, bersifat linear atau searah, biasanya mengamalkan kaedah ‘ambil, buat dan buang’ (take-make-waste). Ia telah menyebabkan penyusutan sumber alam semulajadi dengan cepat dan mnhggnemburukkan lagi pencemaran alam sekitar. Anjakan sistem ekonomi yang lebih mesra alam perlu dilaksanakan segera bagi mengimbangi keperluan penjanaan pendapatan negara dan penjagaan alam untuk jangka masa panjang. Justeru, idea amalan perindustrian mampan melalui ‘ekonomi kitaran’ boleh diguna pakai untuk menjadi satu dari penyelesaian dalam menangani isu alam sekitar selepas pandemik.
‘Ekonomi kitaran’ dapat mengurangkan eksploitasi sumber alam dengan memaksimumkan kegunaan sesuatu bahan atau produk. Ia dapat mengurangkan sisa buangan daripada tapak pelupusan, dan sekaligus berupaya mengurangkan pencemaran alam sekitar. Sistem ekonomi ini bertujuan untuk mengurangkan pembaziran sumber melalui proses reka bentuk semula, pengurangan bahan mentah, pembaikan prestasi, penggunaan semula, pengubahsuaian, kitar semula dan pemulihan yang akhirnya akan membenarkan penjanaan semula ekosistem alam semulajadi.
Bagaimanapun, dalam tempoh pasca pandemik, terdapat beberapa cabaran dalam melaksanakan ‘ekonomi kitaran’. Cabaran pertama adalah kerajaan perlu mengutamakan perbelanjaan ke arah memulihkan kesihatan awam supaya ia boleh berdaya tahan terhadap pandemik semasa mahupun yang akan datang. Pihak kerajaan juga perlu memperkasakan sistem sokongan untuk membantu individu dan perniagaan yang terjejas dan yang paling penting adalah memulihkan ekonomi negara untuk jangka masa panjang. Oleh itu, bagi memastikan agenda pemulihan alam sekitar tidak ketinggalan dalam ‘cabaran keutamaan’ ini, elemen kemampanan jangka panjang mesti diambil kira sebagai sebahagian daripada keputusan dasar dalam merangka polisi baharu.
Pemikiran strategik dan penilaian sistemik adalah amat penting bagi mengenal pasti pilihan dasar yang dapat memanfaatkan tindakan jangka masa pendek demi kebaikan jangka masa panjang. Ini bermakna, setiap tindakan jangka masa pendek bukan sahaja dapat menyokong pertumbuhan ekonomi, malah ia dapat memberi manfaat kepada kesejahteraan hidup masyarakat setempat dan alam sekitar. Sebagai contoh, mengembangkan dan menambah lagi kemudahan tenaga hijau dapat memberi manfaat bukan sahaja untuk memenuhi permintaan tenaga semasa, tetapi juga dapat mewujudkan peluang pekerjaan kepada kumpulan yang terjejas dan mengurangkan pencemaran alam.
Di Eropah, ‘ekonomi kitaran’ telah menjadi satu pendekatan yang diterima baik dalam mengurus sumber dan mengendalikan bahan buangan. Ia turut melibatkan transformasi ‘sisa buangan kepada tenaga’ atau ‘waste-to-energy’ (WTE) melalui loji pembakaran sampah dalam membersihkan tapak pelupusan serta dapat memulihkan sisa terkumpul dengan menukarkannya kepada tenaga elektrik yang boleh diguna kembali oleh industri dan pengguna. Pemulihan tenaga daripada sisa buangan pada asasnya ialah penukaran bahan buangan yang tidak boleh dikitar semula melalui pelbagai proses, termasuklah pembakaran, pirolisis, pengegasan, pencernaan anaerobik dan pemulihan gas dari tapak pelupusan kepada haba, elektrik atau bahan bakar. WTE memainkan peranan penting dalam pengurusan sisa mampan dan mengurangkan pergantungan kepada sumber fosil yang menyumbang kepada pelepasan karbon yang tinggi.
Cabaran kedua adalah bilangan loji WTE di Malaysia amat sedikit. Malaysia mempunyai loji WTE terletak di Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan yang mula beroperasi pada Jun 2019. Ia mampu memproses 100 tan sisa setiap hari bagi menjana 25 MW tenaga elektrik. Beberapa lagi loji WTE dengan tujuan sama dijangka akan dibina di Sungai Udang, Melaka; Bukit Payung, Terengganu; Seelong, Johor; Samling, Selangor dan Jabor, Pahang. Memandangkan populasi rakyat Malaysia semakin meningkat, lebih banyak bahan buangan akan dihasilkan dan dengan itu, lebih banyak loji WTE diperlukan untuk menangani isu tapak pelupusan sampah.
Walau bagaimanapun, sesetengah negara seperti Sweden dan Belanda, telah menunjukkan lebihan kapasiti pembakaran yang bukan sahaja menggunakan semua sisa tapak pelupusan mereka sendiri tetapi kini mengimport lebih banyak sisa dari negara jiran bagi tujuan penjanaan tenaga. Kesannya, ia memberi impak besar kepada pasaran kitar semula dan ini sekaligus menjadi cabaran ketiga bagi ‘ekonomi kitaran’. Dengan kata lain, walaupun WTE dapat mengawal pencemaran dan mengurangkan sisa di tapak pelupusan sampah, pembakaran sisa buangan yang berlebihan telah mengenepikan peranan penting kitar semula bahan yang masih boleh digunakan lagi seperti plastik, tin dan kertas.
Akibatnya, kebergantungan kepada lebih banyak sumber mentah baharu tidak dapat dikurangkan kerana sektor kitar semula kian diabaikan dan tidak berupaya untuk memberi sumbangan yang mencukupi. Ini terjadi apabila jumlah sisa buangan yang disalurkan ke sektor kitar semula dan WTE adalah sangat tidak seimbang. Salah satu faktor ia terjadi adalah kerana proses WTE yang kurang rumit dalam mengubah sisa kepada tenaga melalui pembakaran berbanding prosedur kitar semula yang merangkumi pengumpulan, pengangkutan, pengasingan, pembersihan dan pemprosesan semula yang kompleks sebelum produk baharu dapat dihasilkan dan dijual.
Walaupun terdapat cabaran yang besar dalam sektor kitar semula di kebanyakan negara, sektor ini mesti dipertingkatkan dan diperkasakan kerana kitar semula merupakan subset penting dalam ‘ekonomi kitaran’ yang sebenar. Oleh itu, WTE tidak seharusnya menjadi alternatif untuk memintas kegiatan kitar semula dan tidak boleh dianggap sebagai satu-satunya pilihan yang lebih mudah untuk melenyapkan sisa buangan.
Cabaran keempat adalah sistem pengasingan sisa sedia ada mestilah dibuat lebih cekap dan menyeluruh. Proses pembakaran WTE berfungsi sebagai penyelesaian jangka pendek bagi menguruskan krisis sisa buangan, manakala sistem pengasingan sisa yang baik akan dapat memberi manfaat kepada kedua-dua sektor kitar semula dan WTE untuk jangka masa panjang. Peranan pengasingan sisa buangan menjadi semakin penting ketika penularan pandemik COVID-19 apabila ia menyebabkan peningkatan besar sisa perubatan dan plastik. Kesemua cabaran ini perlu diatasi dengan baik ketika negara sedang berusaha memulihkan ekonomi selepas pandemik tanpa mengabaikan pemeliharaan alam sekitar.
Kesimpulannya, ‘ekonomi kitaran’ ini mampu membawa perubahan positif bukan sahaja untuk ekonomi, malah kepada kesejahteraan alam dan kehidupan rakyat Malaysia dengan potensi peningkatan peluang pekerjaan yang lebih bersih dan selamat sekiranya ia dilaksanakan dengan betul, bersepadu dan sistemik.
The idea of sustainable industrial practices through circular economy can be one of the many solutions to address environmental issues post-pandemic as it will reduce the exploitation of resources, maximise their utility, and reduce waste from landfills while minimising pollution.
A circular economy is aimed at reducing waste of resources through redesigning, reducing, repairing, reusing, refurbishing, recycling and recovering processes that will eventually allow regeneration of natural ecosystem.
Ideally, it will prevent the collection of waste in landfills and, to a certain extent, be capable of discarding existing wastes. In the post-pandemic period, there are several challenges in implementing a circular economy.
First, the government has to prioritise expenditure towards recovering public health to be resilient in current and future pandemic events; empower the support system to help affected individuals and businesses; and most importantly, revive the economy in the long run.
Therefore, to ensure the environmental recovery agenda is not left behind, the integration of long-term sustainability must be part and parcel of policy decisions.
For example, building more coal power plants is not the best long-term measure for the people, economy and the environment. Instead, adding and expanding reliable greener energy facilities is beneficial to meet current energy demand while also creating jobs and reducing pollution.
The circular economy involves, among others, the transformation of waste to energy (WTE) through incineration plants to clear landfills and recover collected wastes in the form of electricity back to industries and consumers.
Energy recovery from waste is basically the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials through a variety of processes, including combustion, pyrolisation, gasification, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas recovery, into usable heat, electricity or fuel. WTE plays an important role in sustainable waste management and reduces the reliance on fossil sources with high carbon emissions.
However, countries like Sweden and Holland exhibit incineration overcapacity, which not only used up all their landfills' wastes but now they have to import more wastes from neighbouring countries for energy generation.
From one perspective, the waste-to-energy policy and its implementation there have been successful and indicate their capability to be circular economy nations.
However, this ambitious waste-free economy will potentially impact the recycling market. Excessive incineration of waste to energy will discourage the recycling of reusable materials such as plastics, cans and papers.
Consequently, the need for more raw resources cannot be reduced due to the inability of the recycling sector to make a significant contribution. This is because the amount of waste channelled to the recycling sector and waste-to-energy incinerator is hugely disproportionate.
The reason behind this might be due to a less-complicated process in transforming waste to energy through incineration compared with recycling procedures that include the collection, transportation, sorting, cleaning and complex reprocess before new products can be produced and sold.
Despite the challenges faced by the recycling sector in most countries, it must be improved and empowered since recycling is an essential subset of a circular economy.
Therefore, waste-to-energy should not be an alternative to bypass recycling and shall not be considered as the only and easier option to eliminate waste.
The recycling sector can actually be an opportunity for industries to make a profitable business.
The producer can change the packaging and product design to create market demand for recycled materials and reduce price volatility.
Lastly, the waste sorting system must be made efficient for the long term. WTE incineration process will serve as a short-term solution to manage the waste crisis, while a good waste sorting system will favour the recycling and WTE sectors.
The increasing importance of waste sorting is further underlined since the Covid-19 pandemic saw a large increase in medical and plastic wastes.
In the future, the government must also consider adopting new technology that improves waste-sorting to protect the environment.
The circular economy strategy, which includes integrated and systemic solutions involving waste management, recycling, and WTE initiatives, will further support environmental recovery post-pandemic. Additionally, it will increase job creation and the long-term resilience of the country.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
Published in: The New Straits Times, Friday 10 Dec 2021
One can find discarded face masks and gloves in cities, streets, drains, rivers and sea due to people taking environmental cleanliness for granted.
We should not rely solely on the government and non-governmental organisations to reduce waste.
Manufacturers have to "rethink" before producing products that eventually put the environment as the receiving end. Similar to consumers' 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) practices, manufacturers should have environment friendly practices in their production process.
Expanding the 3R to 7R (rethink, refuse, reduce, repurpose, reuse, recycle and rot) will further support ecological sustainability. Another form of 7R (rethink, reduce, reuse, repair, refurbish, recover and recycle) adopts the circular economy model.
The conventional economic system practises "take-make-waste" that drains natural resources due to the manufacturing of unsustainable products, which increase the burden of landfills. A circular economy avoids the non-sustainable use of resources and allows the regeneration of the natural system.
In the 7R principle, the "rethink" is for manufacturers to be mindful of the use of resources, including waste production, since the business model should address the issue of depleting resources and waste reduction.
An alternative is adopting a shared economy, which operates with fewer resources compared with the conventional business model with singular ownership.
The "reduce" of resources encourages manufacturers to apply lean design principles and extend product life spans, which curb wastage. The "reduce" in this case can also mean making a product that can last longer.
It will allow manufacturers to keep existing equipment much longer or transfer it to other users. It is also applicable for consumers who own the product and maintain it for their use. These measures not only save money but also the environment in the long run.
"Reuse" means transferring used products that are in good condition to other users, for example, through a second-hand marketplace. It can benefit manufacturers that maintain the quality of their equipment and products, allowing consumers to get affordable, well-maintained used items.
"Refurbish" will allow the transformation of used products into new ones with new designs or performances. It can mean upcycling old products by giving them new life.
"Refurbish" is applicable when the product is beyond repair and refurbish. The product has to be dissembled before being recycled. Electrical components may contain precious materials such as gold.
By adopting the "circular economy" 7R principles, nothing ends as wastage. There will be no more build-up of waste in landfills. The existing waste in landfills can be discarded through the above principle via energy conversion.
A circular economy can be the right strategy for manufacturers to save the environment and money, as well as return jobs lost during the pandemic.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
Published in: The New Straits Times, Monday 23 Aug 2021
Our economic system is built on a linear notion of ‘take-make-dispose’, where resources are extracted from the planet, goods are then produced, and eventually they are disposed; often for other products. The model has been working for us so far, yet it contains an inherent fl aw which is that it assumes that our planet’s resources are infi nite. Accordingly, such a model is not sustainable in the long-run, and will eventually break. Climate changes, environmental degradation, and landfills are all planet-stressing byproducts of this linear approach.
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Food is an indispensable aspect of any festive celebration in Malaysia. With a happy mix of ethnicities and cultures, the country is a host to numerous varieties of food. During the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslim communities produce and consume a large amount of food as they normally organise iftar (breaking of fast) gatherings.
The advent of Eid al-Fitr does not ease their love for food as the festival demands another set of traditional dishes and delicacies be served to friends and visitors. All this results in a huge amount of food waste. There are reports that no fewer than 9,000 tonnes of food are discarded per day during Ramadan.
The development of modern agriculture in many countries has led to the displacement of food production at the individual, local and community levels as it is, in many cases, being outsourced to multinational corporations or large agribusinesses.
Most of the people today are consumers rather than producers of food. People do not produce their food anymore like they used to and this has somehow led our communities to lose their connection with the food production practices and traditions.
Currently, we are also facing some worrying issues in terms of our food system as the largely centralised industry has failed to meet some expectations. In terms of distribution, the global community is witnessing a considerable decrease in food production despite increasing demand. To meet the population demand by 2050, our global agricultural production must increase by 60 per cent. The disparity between demand and production will lead to serious dysfunctional imbalances in food distribution globally.
Added to this are food waste issues we face at the national level. Food waste as defined by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations is the removal of food from its overall supply due to economic behaviour, poor stock management or neglect.
Reportedly, a third of the overall food that is grown is wasted between any point from farm to fork daily, which is valued at more than US$1 trillion (RM4 trillion), and if consumed the amount would be sufficient to feed 870 million people worldwide.
One of the main contributing factors of the food waste phenomenon, despite individual attitude, is the linear trait of our food chain, whereby food supplies tend to move linearly from producers to consumers. This results in the generation of vast quantities of food that consumers do not need. It is the sad reality of all segments of the food market and this has led to another linear economic culture of “buy, use and dispose”.
What is needed is a food system model that emulates the cycle of life. Experts call this circular economy. Such a model keeps resources in use for as long as we can, thus maximising value for everyone. By connecting producers of food and consumers in a balanced loop, the circular model gets rid of the “buy, use and dispose” mindset. Also, such a model enables us to regenerate the products and materials at the end of their service life.
Information technology enables the circular economy to operate effectively, as it is able to connect consumers directly to food producers without any boundary.
For instance, an initiative known as Farmigo in the United States has been connecting consumers with local farmers through an online platform whereby they can order fresh products directly from their preferred producers. In this system, the farmers will only harvest fruit or vegetables when they have orders to fulfil, as an approach to prevent waste. In South Korea, households need to pay to the government according to the amount of food waste they are likely to dispose, and this has led to the recycling of 95 per cent of food waste annually. In Malaysia, Hayati Food Aid Foundation has been collecting unserved dishes from hotels and canned food from hypermarkets to distribute to charities and kitchen soups.
As we are celebrating the month of Syawal with the spirit of returning to our God-given natural selves (fitrah), we need to reflect as well on our food production system and consumption patterns in order to ensure they operate in such a way that conforms to the natural cycle of life. It is a crucial step at preventing wastage in any sphere of our life, as Allah, May He Be Glorified, has declared: “Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful,” (al-Isra’, 17:27).
Ahmad Badri Abdullah is a research fellow at IAIS Malaysia, with a focus on maqasid al-shari’ah (the higher objective of shari’ah), usul al-fiqh, and contemporary Islamic jurisprudence discourse, particularly in the subject of systems thinking and its application in Islamic philosophy of law
Published in: New Straits Times, Friday 22 June 2018