Archive for December, 2011

Should Malaysia’s renewable energy target be more ambitious?

Posted on December 31, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-by Leong Hung Yee, writer

Yes.

WE should have a more ambitious long-term renewable energy (RE) target. After all, Malaysia is blessed with natural resources, especially sunlight.

Malaysia plans to achieve 985 MW of RE, or a 5.5% share of the energy mix, by 2015. Currently, RE contributes less than 1%. The target by 2020 is for RE to make up 11% of the country’s electricity generation.

Based on the number of RE projects awarded by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) to date, we are on track to achieving the 11% target. Perhaps, the target is modest in comparison with the targets and achievements of other countries.

We may not be able to beat Germany (the current No. 1 in the solar market) in the near future but we should at least aim higher say, 10% of electricity generation to come from solar, given that we have sunshine all year round and it’s free. Also, we have much waste that can produce biomass energy.

Malaysia aims for 25% usage of RE by 2050. By then, several other countries would be in the 60% to 70% range.

Our Government has indicated it is open to raising quotas to generate RE if consumers are willing to pay another 1% RE levy on top of the current 1% in electricity bills.

In the long term, as Malaysia produces and consumes more RE, it can better control its fuel imports and would be less affected by the changes in prices. Thus, we can become more energy independent. On top of that, more RE will also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create a greener environment for generations to come

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Cypark secures new government contract for landfill upgrading

Posted on December 31, 2011. Filed under: Waste |

-Borneo Post Online-

KUCHING: Environmental technology and engineering specialist Cypark Resources Bhd (Cypark), announced yesterday that the company received a Letter of Acceptance from the Ministry of Housing and Local GovernmentHou (KPKT) for the proposed upgrading of the landfill site at Kok Foh, Jempol, Negeri Sembilan worth RM14.7 million.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Cypark said that the project completion date would be Nov 6, 2012; or 44 weeks from the date of site possession. The contract was expected to contribute positively to the earnings and net assets of Cypark for the financial year ending Oct 30, 2012.

The contract, amongst others, would involve works for the safe closure of one part of the landfill and the upgrading of the other part of the landfill into a sanitary cell.

Tan Sri Razali Ismail, non-independent, non-executive chairman and founder of Cypark, said, “The contract will further strengthen the company’s position as one of Malaysia’s leading specialists in solid waste management and integrated environmental solution.

“This new contract is an addition to the previously awarded contract by KPKT, which is currently being undertaken, for the safe closure and remediation of 16 landfills across the country, four sites out of which are also located in Negeri Sembilan.”

Cypark is primarily an environmental technology and engineering specialist, focusing on areas of integrated renewable energy, waste management, and environmental remediation.

The company has developed expertise and technical know-how to generate renewable energy whereby waste biomass, landfill gas and solar rays from the remediated sites and brown fields are harnessed to produce green energy at Integrated Renewable Energy Parks.

Razali continued, “By upgrading another landfill site at Negeri Sembilan, it clearly shows the State’s resolve in creating a higher standard of living for the population of Negeri Sembilan. We are proud to be able to do our part in cleaning up the environment for the Jempol population, so that they can enjoy a much healthier and less harmful lifestyle.”

Cypark registered a profit after tax of RM5.1 million for the financial quarter ended July 31, 2011 at the back of revenues amounting to RM35.2 million. The company posted a cumulative profit after tax of RM17.9 million or translated earnings per share of 12 sen.  The company currently has cumulative revenues of RM118.8 million.

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Environmentalists not happy with aquaculture project at Kuala Kedah

Posted on December 29, 2011. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-The Sun-

GEORGE TOWN (Dec 28, 2011): Environmentalits are up in arms over what they described as the destruction of the mangrove forest in Kampung Permatang Tengah, Kota Kuala Muda, Kedah.

In a joint statement, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) claimed some 112 hectares have been affected since last month due to an aquaculture project.

CAP president SM Mohamed Idris said the clearing of the mangroves have affected some 2,000 villagers as well as some 100 in-shore fishermen who rely on the mangroves for their income.

“They (in-shore fishermen) used to be able to earn between RM60 to RM100 a day catching fish, prawns and crabs but can only earn RM30 now.

“Furthermore, the animals living in the mangroves like the monkeys and lizards are now encroaching in the homes of the villagers,” he said.

Mohamed urged the Kedah state government, to check whether the aquaculture project had an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or not and called for an investigation into the status of the project.

He also called upon the Kedah Forestry Department to take stern action if any laws were found to be broken.

He said a replanting exercise should be undertaken to restore the mangrove as well as compensation be paid to those whose livelihoods were affected.

“The state government should gazette the area as a reserve so it can be protected for future generations,” he said.

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Rhino saved in dramatic rescue

Posted on December 27, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The Star-

KOTA KINABALU: A dramatic helicopter rescue of a young and rare female Sumatran rhinoceros on Christmas Day has boosted hopes for the survival of the species that is facing extinction.

Sabah wildlife department director Dr Laurentius Ambu described the helicopter airlift of the rhino as a world’s first in a tropical rainforest.

The rhino, aged between 10 and 12 years and named Puntung, was first caught on Dec 18 in a joint operation by the department and the Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora).

Safe and sound : Puntung wallowing in her temporary enclosure at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.

It was kept within a temporary enclosure at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and placed in a crate on Christmas eve for relocation to the nearby Borneo Rhino Sanctuary, also within the reserve. However, rains and foggy conditions delayed the airlift.

“It was only on Christmas morning that the fog cleared temporarily and gave us a window to let the helicopter lower its cables to hook up the crate,” said Dr Ambu.

With an estimated 20 to 30 rhinos left in the wilds of Sabah, the capture and trans-location of Puntung gives conservationists another shot at breeding the species in captivity. It is hoped Puntung would mate with a lone captive male rhino, named Tam.

Dr Ambu said the conservation programme here is in touch with a similar programme in Sumatra.

Special mission: A helicopter lifting the crate of the rhino from the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu on Christmas Day.

“This is now the very last chance to save this species, one of the most ancient forms of mammal. We need collaboration and support in our efforts to prevent the extinction of this unique species that was once found in abundance,” he added.

Meanwhile, department chief veterinarian Dr Sen Nathan said they hoped to get Puntung to mate with Tam, a middle aged male rhino, which was rescued in 2008 and placed at the rhino sanctuary.

“Attempts to get Tam to mate with another rescued female rhino, named Gelegup, failed as she was old and infertile,” he said, adding that Puntung looked healthy enough for breeding.

“We captured Puntung because, after two years of observation, we found that there were no male rhinos in the vicinity and it was unlikely for it to find a mate within its natural surrounding,” Dr Sen said.

“From camera trap observations, Puntung also had old injuries on its front left limb, giving more reason for her capture.”

Bora executive director Dr Junaidi Payne said Puntung was doing reasonably well.

“It was trapped, kept in an enclosure for a while and then airlifted in a noisy helicopter. It suffered some minor abrasion and is being treated with antiseptics.

“She is allowing people to handle her now and is drinking and eating well,” Dr Junaidi added.

He said the helicopter used in the rhino rescue, operated by American company Erickson Air Crane that has an office in Miri, was brought in for the airlift at a cost of US$70,000 (about RM210,000).

Yayasan Sime Darby has provided large financial support for Bora’s efforts to save the rhinos while Malaysian Palm Oil Industries Council was also aiding the wildlife department’s rescue unit.

Since 1996, the Sumatran rhino has been listed as “critically endangered”, which is just a step away from being extinct in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List.

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Sabah aims to conserve giant clams

Posted on December 27, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

— Bernama

SEMPORNA: The Giant Clam Culture Centre on Buhey Dulang Island plays a vital role in conserving the marine ecosystem at the Tun Sakaran Marine Park off the coast of Semporna, Sabah.

The centre, the first of its kind under Sabah Parks, conducts research and cultures giant clams with seeds supplied to the local community to help them reduce their over-reliance on natural marine resources.

The centre, established in 2006 under the Semporna Islands Darwin Project, is the result of cooperation between Sabah Parks and the Marine Conservation Society, Uni­ted ­King­dom.

Sabah Parks marine research officer Nasrulhakim Maidin noted that giant clam culture is important because their numbers have depleted from over-harvesting around the waters of Semporna.

The giant clam is a mollusc in the Bivalvia class that thrives in Indo-Pacific waters.

There are seven species of giant clams in Malaysian waters, with some growing up to 60cm in length.

According to Nasrul, giant clams not only thrive on plankton but also produce their own nutrients through photosynthesis with the help of algae.

“The giant clam plays an important role in the marine ecosystem as it filters the water,” he said.

In the long term, said Nasrul, there are plans to commercialise the giant clams for ornamental purposes.

Elvin Michael Bavoh, a marine officer at Tun Sakaran Marine Parks first research and culture centre, noted so far about 2,000 seeds have been relocated to the surrounding areas.

Another 1,000 seeds are waiting to be relocated from the centre.

He pointed out that the effort to culture giant clams involves two species – Tridacna gaigas and Tridacna derasa – which are fast disappearing in the waters of Semporna.

Currently only the Tridacna derasa is being cultured.

In August, several sea nomads known as Palauh were seen picking relocated giant clams not far from the Buhey Dulang island.

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Rogue male wild elephant caught

Posted on December 27, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

— Bernama

KOTA BARU: The Kelantan Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) caught a rogue male wild elephant about 500m from the Jeli-Grik main road near the Batu Melintang camp in Jeli.

Its director Rahmat Topani said the elephant, believed to be between 10 and 15 years old and weighing 1.5 tonnes, was among 11 wild elephants caught by the department in Gua Musang, Kuala Krai and Jeli throughout the year.

He said acting on a report received from villagers of Kampung Jerek, Batu Melintang, a team of rangers from the Jeli office started tracking the elephant.

The team headed by Ismail Nordin spotted the elephant at about 9am yesterday and used sedatives to overpower the animal.

“The elephant is believed to have terrorised villagers in Kampung Dendong, Lawar, Belimbing and Kampung Pendok causing damage to their crops,” he said.

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Snake and reptile park to be upgraded to mini zoo

Posted on December 27, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

— Bernama

KANGAR: The Perlis Snake and Reptile Park in Sungai Batu Pahat near here will be upgraded to a mini zoo, said Perlis State Econo­­-mic and Development Corporation (PSEDC) general manager Kassim Zakaria.

The park, built in 1975, was initially a venom research centre for the Institute of Medical Research but was taken over by PSEDC in 1981 to be developed as a tourist attraction, he said.

However, he explained that it would take a long time to turn it into a mini zoo as various species of wildlife would have to be brought in and also a bigger area was needed.

Kassim said the park, which houses 328 venomous and non-venomous snakes, is the biggest of its kind in the country.

“As at November, more than 120,000 locals and foreigners had visited the park.”

The Cute Cat Carnival which was held here for the first time also attracted thousands of visitors, he said.

The two-day carnival ended on Sunday.

The park is located at the edge of the Nakawan mountain range which separates Malaysia and Thailand.

It is surrounded by other attractions, including a herb garden, vineyard, an aromatic farm and a golf course.

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Egg hatching centres fenced up to keep out wild animals

Posted on December 27, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

— Bernama–

KUALA TERENGGANU: Fences have been erected around turtle hatching centres in Terengganu including in Ma’daerah, Kemaman to keep out wild animals.

State Fisheries Department Zakaria Ismail said wild boars from a nearby jungle had intruded into the centre at Ma’daerah several weeks ago and damaged the eggs.

“Apart from fencing up the turtle egg hatching areas, we planted the eggs in other areas and also put up traps,” he said.

A total of 24,000 turtle eggs were hatched at the centre in Ma’daerah this year.

Meawhile, Zakaria said not a single leatherback turtle landed on the beaches of Terengganu this year.

Last year, there were about five to six sightings.

He said this could indicate the species was on the brink of extinction.

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Trashing bad habits

Posted on December 25, 2011. Filed under: Waste |

-The Star-By TAN EE LOO educate@thestar.com.my

With more people dying each year from hunger-related causes, it is time for us to think of ways to stop food wastage and give away our unconsumed food to others.

THE two friends agree to meet at a fast food restaurant for a meal in the evening, but much of their food is left uneaten when they leave the outlet. Towards the end of the evening, a man walks in and heads straight to the restaurant’s kitchen where he carefully goes through the trash picking out half-eaten chicken wings and drumsticks, and puts them into a plastic bag .

The following morning, a group of village children excitedly await the man as he brings over the leftovers for them.

Yummy: Revathy, 6 (right) biting into a bun while her friend Tharani, 5, looks on. Both the girls from the Taman Megah Handicapped and Disabled Children’s Home, Petaling Jaya, have been fortunate to get a supply of bread and pastries from Tan who delivers them regularly. — AHMAD IZZRAFIQ ALIAS / The Star.

Some of them have food residue smudged over their faces and hair, but the hungry children are not concerned about hygiene.

While this scene may be typical of children scrambling for leftovers in city slums and villages, it was actually a recording from the short film Chicken Ala Carte.

Produced by Filipino environmentalist Ferdinand Dimadura in 2005, the film won wide acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival 2006.

It may have been intended to address the issue of poverty and hunger, but it also highlights the issue of food that is wasted.

More than 25,000 people die of hunger-related causes every day, according to international relief organisation Stop Hunger Now (SHN). So instead of tossing leftovers and unconsumed food into the garbage bin, we should think of the people we can donate the food to.

Records show that more people die each year from hunger-related causes compared to AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

A report commisioned and released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in May, states that approximately one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year which comes to about 1.3bil tonnes, gets lost or is wasted.

Dr Sumiani Yusoff and PhD candidate Ng Chee Guan checking out the food waste at the university’s on-site waste treatment facility

Food losses and food wastage are two different things altogether, says the report. Food losses occurs at the production, harvest, post-harvest and processing phases due to poor infrastructure, low levels of technology and low investment in the food production systems.

Food waste is more a problem in industrialised countries, often caused by both retailers and consumers throwing perfectly edible food products into garbage bins.

It is estimated that per capita waste by consumers is between 95 and 115 kgs waste a year in Europe and North America, as stated in the report, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia each throw away between six and 11kg of waste a year.

Our country may be known as a food paradise in the region, but there is also a great deal of food wastage.

We tend to take our food for granted because we don’t see the amount of hard work that is put in to grow and produce the food we eat every day.

According to Dr Theng Lee Chong, the national coordinator for the collaboration project between the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Environment Ministry, Japan, food waste is about 50% of the total waste in Malaysia.

Food waste can be defined in four categories: food residue, kitchen waste (from preparation of meals), unconsumed waste (e.g. hotel buffet), and expired food, says the waste management specialist.

“Food residue and kitchen waste are inevitable. But unconsumed waste and expired food are a problem which makes up 10 to 15% in the total food waste generated in the country,” he adds. In Kuala Lumpur, the total waste comes up to about 3,000 tonnes every day, of which about 1,500 tonnes are food waste.

In fact, he says, food waste can be as high as 70% at the landfill site but he points out that this is because many recyclable materials are recovered but most of the food waste is disposed.

For a good cause: Hoh sorting out the pastries and bread with an assistant before distributing them to welfare home representatives.

Several canteen operators say that they are glad to give any food that has not been sold to those in need.

“I will usually keep the food for the cleaners or workers who want it, because it will be a shame to just throw food that is still edible. However, if they don’t come and collect it, I will have to throw it away,” says the canteen operator, who declined to be named.

A worker who handles fruits and vegetables at a supermarket says fruits and vegetables that are not so fresh are normally sold at a discounted price. If there are no takers, they will end up in the bin as well.

Too much food

As the country ushers in the Christmas and New Year, the holiday season is often seen as a time of excess gluttony.

Dr Theng: Food waste is about 50% of the total waste in our country.

“We tend to be very lavish in food preparation and serving. If you don’t serve food or enough food to your visitors, you may not be seen as a good host,” says Universiti Malaya (UM) Assoc Prof Dr Sumiani Yusoff, whose area of expertise is environmental engineering and management.

While lavish wedding banquets and feasts are a popular choice among the Chinese to celebrate a couple’s union, Dr Theng says the unconsumed food ends up in garbage bins at the end of the night.

“We normally get eight or nine course-meal at Chinese wedding receptions. Many guests have had a lot to eat by the time they get to the second last course. The fried rice is hardly ever touched before it gets thrown away,” he says.

Dr Theng says guests should be encouraged to pack the unconsumed food home to avoid wastage.

“If the host of a wedding dinner, makes an announcement urging guests to pack the unconsumed food home, the guests will not feel embarrassed because they have been given the approval to do so. This has been done before, and is an effective way to reduce food wastage,” he says.

Much of the unconsumed food comes from hotels. According to a recent survey, 81.3% of the hotels were found to dispose of their unconsumed food.

Many of the bigger hotels, because of their respective policies, do not allow for leftover foods to be taken away by their employees or guests.

“Just imagine the amount of food after a buffet lunch or dinner that is still ‘untouched’ which can still be eaten by many people,” says Dr Theng.

To effectively reduce the issue of food waste, National Solid Waste Management Department director-general Datuk Dr Nadzri Yahaya says the department is looking at the possibility of setting up a food bank next year.

The food bank will facilitate the distribution of unconsumed food to welfare groups. By doing so the food will not go to waste.

As the project coordinator, Dr Theng encourages bakeries, hotels, hypermarkets and volunteers to take part in the project.

“The concept is to distribute food that otherwise would have gone to waste. We need to make sure that we have a system to ensure the food that comes in get delivered to the welfare groups in the fastest time possible.”

The department has also carried out a study to look at the amount of food waste being generated everyday in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.

With so much food thrown away Dr Nadzri says that it is perhaps time to look into the feasibility of building an anaerobic digester to turn waste into compost and renewable energy.

Action plan

There are many practices that we can emulate and learn from developed countries. Many of these nations have already initiated plans to minimise food wastage, says environmental management experts.

With a touch of creativity, the issue of food waste can be minimised effectively.

“In Japan, for example, many restaurants in Tokyo are adopting a new approach in reducing food waste by offering customers a choice for food portions,” says Dr Theng.

“If you order a don (rice) of standard size, the restaurant will charge you at normal price. However, if you want to order a smaller portion (that is if you are certain that you are unable to finish standard size portions) the eatery will give a discount of about 50 yen. If you ask for a bigger portion, you will get that at no extra cost,” says Dr Theng, who made the observation during his recent trip to Japan.

Recalling her experience of attending a seminar in Japan, Dr Sumiani says she was given coupons during the lunch break to buy food at the participating outlets.

“With the coupons, you can choose and buy food that you want to eat, and the portion is just enough for you. It is a win-win situation, instead of a common buffet style seminar lunch break” she says.

In Malaysia, food is always prepared on a lavish scale for participants at international conferences as it is a way of demonstrating hospitality, she adds.

“In Japan, the United States and Denmark, event organisers for conferences opt to give participants snack bars, sandwiches and fruits. It’s healthier and there is minimal food wastage,” says Dr Sumiani.

As the FAO report suggests, education in schools and political initiatives are possible starting points to changing consumer attitudes.

Dr Sumiani, says individuals need to behave responsibly.

“Malaysians love buffet and people want to get value for money so when they go for buffet, they tend to pile up their food up on their plates,” she says.

Education and awareness from a young age are vital in reducing food waste.

“Malaysians have to be educated and aware of the consequences of their lifestyle, food intake, over consumption and production of food. Buy or consume only the amount you can eat,” she says.

At UM, a zero trash campaign has been started to promote recycling (phase 1) and reduce food waste (phase 2) that will otherwise end up at landfill sites.

Dr Sumiani says the initative was started as a class project in 2008, and has been developed into a university project. About 200kg of food waste is composted daily at the on-site treatment facilities.

“Our plan is to make it a sustainable project which should work like a training centre so that the public can come to us and learn how food waste is managed,” she says.

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New bus stops meet green objectives

Posted on December 24, 2011. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

-New Straits Times-

PENANG Island will see the construction of some 150 new bus stops by the middle of next year to assure the community greater access to bus services.

A bus stop built with  polycarbonate material which provides protection against harmful ultraviolet A bus stop built with polycarbonate material which provides protection against harmful ultraviolet rays. It has solar panels to save on the cost of electricity.

1 / 1

The project, which is  into its second phase, is being carried out in the Batu Ferringhi and Balik Pulau  by a private company.

The new bus stops, being built to international standards, will have CCTVs, an area  for parking  up to six bicycles, and solar panels  to light up the bus stops at night.

Viewplex (M) Sdn Bhd corporate affairs division manager Angelyna Radhi said apart from these new features, the level of the bus stops will be raised on par with the step of the buses and a  leaning rail to enable the wheelchair-bound to board the  buses easily.

Viewplex, a Penang-based business, is responsible for building the new-age bus stops at a cost of RM5 million.

“The bus stops are built using polycarbonate material which provides protection from harmful ultraviolet rays, galvanised iron and concrete, and the solar panels will save on the cost of electricity, complying with the cleaner, greener Penang objectives,” Angelyna said.

She said three bus stops in  Jalan Sungai Dua, Jalan Mayang Pasir and Jalan Tengah, were  completed in October.
“Each bus stop costs between  RM30,000 and  RM35,000 and we are targeting to complete 25 to 30  per month… we will also monitor and be responsible for   the cleanliness of the bus stops,” she said at a recent press conference here.

Angelyna said there will be two supervisors, two technical support workers and a host of general workers who will be charged with the management and maintenance duties of the bus stops.

Also, Penang Island Municipal Council’s Ramlah Bee said the work by the company was   welcomed as it promoted green initiatives.

“There will also be recycling bins, community notice boards, bus schedules and a map for the convenience of the public,” she said.

Ramlah said  contractors were invited to participate in an open tender last year to sponsor, build and oversee the maintenance work for the   new bus stops, as well as submit  designs for  disabled-friendly bus stops.

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