Curtin students learn about waste management at Kuching Integrated Waste Management Park

Miri – 20 November 2019 – 11 environmental engineering students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently visited the Kuching Integrated Waste Management Park (KIWMP) in Mambong near the state capital as part of the ‘ENEN 2001 Solid and Hazardous Waste Management’ unit they are currently studying.

Accompanying them was unit lecturer Dr. Tay Ai Chen, who said the visit to the KIWMP, which is operated by Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn. Bhd., enabled the students to study the methods and technologies used in handling waste in a landfill.

She said it also allowed them to gain insights into the functions of the KIWMP in the preservation of natural resources and the long-term protection of the environment in compliance with both local and international safety and environmental standards.

Dr. Tay and the students were welcomed on arrival by Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn. Bhd.’s Corporate Communications Executive Anthea Lee, Manager for Landfills Julian Gabriel Bain and Leachate Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager Lee Yu Wee.

The three briefed the visitors on how the park receives, treats and disposes of municipal and hazardous waste from all over East Malaysia. They also elaborated on its four main components, namely, a sanitary landfill for municipal waste, a secure landfill for hazardous waste, a state-of-the-art leachate wastewater treatment plant, and a hazardous waste incineration facility for the thermal treatment and disposal of scheduled hazardous waste.

In addition, they highlighted other aspects such as Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn. Bhd.’s waste collection and transportation services, its stringent health and safety precautions which are fully compliant with Natural Resources and Environment Board requirements, and its corporate social responsibility programmes.

Following the briefing, the students were taken on a tour of the landfill which receives approximately 513 tonnes of municipal waste a day from three Kuching City councils, namely Padawan Municipal Council, Kuching North City Commission and Kuching South City Council.

The operations of the landfill cells are an integral part of the master plan developed under the Integrated Waste Management System (IWMS) which focuses on controlled waste filling plans to prolong the lifespan of the landfill in tandem with the growing population.

All the students came away with new knowledge and insights from the visit and saw it as a perfect opportunity to connect what they had learned in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management unit to the KIWMP’s operations.

Student Chang Jia Hao said it was his first time visiting a landfill site and the experience was a really good one as he learned a lot about waste management from it. Heng Jia Sheng, meanwhile, said he was fascinated by the technology used to treat wastes at the site.

The students also described the visit as a real eye-opener as it dispelled some of the common perceptions about landfills.

“It was hardly the dirty, filthy and unpleasant landfill environment we had expected. As a modern integrated waste management park, it is a well-managed, environment-friendly example of how we can better manage our waste and avoid environmental pollution,” commented Tan Chun Hern.

Ngu Wei Jie and Chung Jia Hui added that the landfill was surprisingly clean and there were no foul smells or insect infestation, which fellow student Bernice Lee attributed to the effectiveness of the park’s modern facilities and waste management practices.

Desmond Wong Sie Wei and Yap Chi Nam agreed, saying it was obvious Trienekens manages solid wastes at the landfill very well, applying methods that are efficient and effective.

Taking a more philosophical view, Ngieng Hui Yee said, “Although integrated landfills help us to deal with solid waste generated every day, we nevertheless have to reduce the amount of solid waste we generate. We have to love our Earth and start practicing the 3Rs of environmental conservation – recycle, reduce and reuse.”

 Dr. Tay, too, had very positive comments about the visit, saying it was a great experience for the students, and that they are now able to relate the information they gathered to the integrated waste management concepts they learned in class.

Environmental Engineering Programme Coordinator Dr. Tan Yee Yong also commented that such site visits ensure students develop the ability to integrate their learning with practical application in the workplace.

“At Curtin Malaysia, the Environmental Engineering Programme equips students with a highly practical and innovative engineering experience, and our environmental engineering graduates enjoy career opportunities in a wide range of industrial sectors,” said Dr. Tan.

The students and Dr Tay pose for group photo with Julian Gabriel Bain and Anthea Lee.

Julian briefing the students on the KIWMP’s landfill management and operations.

Dr Tay presenting a token of appreciation to Julian.

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