Article and photos by Prof Nipon Pisutpaisal, the 2018/19 ASEAN Science and Technology Fellow placed at the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, Ministry of Energy, Thailand.
The issue of municipal solid wastes (MSW) is a major environmental problem in my home country, Thailand, and around the world. Landfilling is a conventional way to store MSW underground, but its practice nowadays limited due to the public perception that it is not sustainable when it comes to recovering the extractable energy in wastes. Thus, in response to this, other sustainable MSW- to-energy practices are proposed. Conceptually, the wastes containing extractable energy must be converted to energy (e.g., electricity or biogas), the recyclable and non-energy extractable portions recycled, while the non-energy extractable and non-recyclables can be placed in the landfills.
As an ASEAN Science and Technology Fellow, I participated in many public activities addressing the MSW-to-energy policies and practices in Thailand. I also reviewed the literature on existing policies in Asian and EU countries and worked with energy policy experts in the Ministry of Energy. Additionally, I engaged with a consultant team in policy drafting at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
From my experience, I learned how challenging and simultaneously beneficial public hearings and recommendations are to policymaking. I also prepared policy recommendations for relevant government agencies.
The sustainable MSW-to-energy practices will make better management on MSW and ultimately benefit the country socially, economically, and environmentally. I am certain this policy recommendation will not only benefit Thailand concerning MSW-to-energy practices but also other ASEAN member states.