Malaysian Waste Expert Supported by Danida

Dr Theng Lee Chong is a technical adviser for a solid waste management project that involves the Malaysian and Danish governments. The project specifically involves the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Danish International Development Assistance (Danida).
In an interview in The Star Online, Dr Theng Lee Chong estimates that the daily production of waste in Malaysia equals 10 -15 football fields with rubbish of up to a metre high
Dr Theng’s work is not a desk job operation. Wearing his protective boots, he is also frequently seen actiually walking on landfills of rotting food and plastic bottles, and poking through mountains of waste to collect samples, are all part of the job.
The samples are to determine their composition and characteristics. These in turn will indicate the type and capacity of gas and pollution levels that can be emitted from the dump.
“You see a lot of plastics at the landfill, but about 70% of all the garbage is food waste. So I have made a simple rule for my own family — we must finish all the food on our plates in order to minimise food waste,” shares Dr Theng.
Aternatively, rotten vegetables, instead of being turned into waste, can actually be made into compost.
Dr Theng’s desk work includes anything from the formulation of a master plan, action plan or blueprint on solid waste management for a new township, local council, state or even the country as a whole.
It also includes the drafting and designing of waste treatment facilities, proposing waste handling methods and technologies, conducting pilot projects, providing training and so on.
In general, the job is to provide solutions for waste management by carrying out the necessary studies or surveys on various types of waste categories for different waste generators or regulators.
In the interview in The Star Online, Dr Theng says he loves his job because it’s interesting to work on different projects and deal with different people and team members. But some projects can take as long as three to four years to complete, and can be challenging.
 What he dislike most about the job is dealing with medical waste.
”I can tolerate the smell of normal municipal waste, but I cannot stand the terrible stench of blood from contaminated bandages, human tissues and human organs,” Dr Theng says.

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