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International Journal of Conceptions on Management and Social Sciences

Vol. 2, Issue. 3, Sep 2014; ISSN: 2357 2787

The Issues of Policy Implementation on Solid Waste

Management in Malaysia
Muhamad Azahar Abas

Seow Ta Wee

Faculty of Technology Management and Business

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia
86400 Parit Raja, Batu Pahat, Johor, MALAYSIA

Faculty of Technology Management and Business

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia
86400 Parit Raja, Batu Pahat, Johor, MALAYSIA

Abstract Malaysia is one of the most successful developing

countries in term of economy growth. The rapid urbanization
process in Malaysia has brought many peoples migrate to the
urban areas. Reflecting from this phenomenon, Malaysia has
experiencing a transition of solid waste management due to the
rapid solid waste generation. In fact, there is a policy and
legislation with regard to solid waste management has been
introduced in Malaysia. Enactment of Solid Waste Management
and Public Cleansing Act (Act 672) has brought huge
transformation in solid waste management in Malaysia.
However, the policy implementation on solid waste management
is looks like feeble and doubtful which not goes like its planning.
Landfilling is still the main solid waste disposal approach and
recycling rate among Malaysian is low at 5% which still left
behind with compared to the neighbouring countries. The
objective of this concept paper is to give an insight for developing
countries like Malaysia towards effective policy implementation
on solid waste management through a good governance practices.
The issues and factors of ineffective policy implementation on
solid waste in Malaysia will be discussed briefly.

solid waste management [2]. The National solid waste

management policy aims are (1) to establish a solid waste
management system which is holistic, integrated, cost
effective, sustainable and acceptable to the community that
emphasises the conservation of the environment, selection of
affordable technology and ensuring public health, (2) to
implement solid waste management based on the waste
hierarchy which emphasises waste minimization through 3R
(reduce, reuse and recycle), intermediate treatment and final
disposal [8].

Keywords- policy implementation; solid waste management

policy; good governance

Moreover, Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management

(Act 672) and Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management
Corporation (Act 673) have been enacted through Ninth
Malaysia Plan (9MP). The enactment of these acts is an
initiative to achieve effective solid waste management in
Malaysia [3]. Moreover, the enactment of these acts also has
brought the solid waste management legislation in Malaysia to
the world-wide level. However, this solid waste management
transformation has brought a huge responsible to stakeholders.
As the result, there are plenty of issues have emerged within
the agencies and its stakeholders [35].

Efficient solid waste management in urban area is very
crucial nowadays. Increment of solid waste generated year
after year in urban area becomes a massive challenge to the
government. Like other countries, Malaysia has taken several
initiatives to cope with these issues. For example, Ministry of
Housing and Local Government (MHLG) has formed a
national action plan known as Action Plan for a Beautiful and
Clean Malaysia (ABC) since the year 1988 [1]. After that, the
Outline Perspective Plan 3 (OPP3) has been introduced in the
year 2000. In this perspective plan, the government has
adopted a comprehensive solid waste policy which including
installation of incinerators for safe and efficient waste disposal.
Moreover, a strategy for waste reduction, reuse and recycling
(3R) has been formulated in this plan.

Further, the galloping process of urbanisation, globalisation

and industrialisation nowadays has brought half the worlds
population live in the urban area. Almost all regions on the
earth will be predominantly by urban in the middle of century
[4]. Hence, the number of stakeholders has increase year after
year and becoming more complex and complicated [5]. This
condition has brought massive challenges to local and federal
government to ensure the solid waste management policies has
been adapted effectively to all stakeholders. Hence,
implementing of solid waste management policy in most
countries including Malaysia is not an easy task. Ineffective of
solid waste management policy implementation would lead to
huge obstacle on social development, environmental vitality
and economic stability [6]. Therefore, effective policy
implementation on solid waste management is significant to
attain sustainable development.

In the year 2006, National Strategic Plan (NSP) for solid

waste management has been formed in Ninth Malaysian Plan
(9MP). In this NSP, enactment and amendment of several acts
has been conducted to make a huge transformation in Malaysia

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International Journal of Conceptions on Management and Social Sciences

Vol. 2, Issue. 3, Sep 2014; ISSN: 2357 2787
Malaysian government has faced a huge challenge in solid
waste management nowadays. The implementation of National
Policy on solid waste management looks like feeble and
doubtful which not goes like its planning [5]. The rate of
recycling among Malaysian is still low which at 5% [9]. As the
result, most of solid wastes generated were disposed at landfills
[17]. Most of the landfills in Malaysia are used beyond its
capacity. The average lifespan of Malaysias landfills are
maximum two years. The condition of the landfills at west
countries is quite different which can last for 5 to 10 years [10].
The issue of limited landfills available in Malaysia has created
plenty difficulties to local and federal government to dispose
the solid waste generated [3]. The rapid increasing of solid
waste generated from the past several years until nowadays has
worsened the issue of limited landfill available. Table 1 shows
the increasing of solid waste generated per day at Malaysia city
centres in 1970 until 2002 [3]. The figure is estimated keep
increasing as the urbanization is continuous [3].
City Centres
Kuala Lumpur
Johor Bahru
Kota Bharu

Solid Waste Generated (tons/day)

















The adoption of latest and advanced technology in solid

waste management facilities which including collection,
segregation, and disposal phase are limited in Malaysia
because it is required more expensive funding compared to the
conventional method [5]. As the result, landfilling has been
adopted as a primary technique for solid waste disposal in
Malaysia [13]. Fig. 1 shows landfilling is the main approach
that has been used to dispose solid waste in Malaysia by 75%.
Besides that, only 5% of the solid wastes generated were
treated into something usable while 20% were disposed with
illegally method which is unsustainable approaches. In fact,
landfilling practices would lead to negative impact on human
health and environment vitality. Many previous studies have
shown that the poor management of landfill will contribute to
land, air, and water pollution [14].
The phenomenon of inefficient and ineffective solid waste
management is not a new phenomenon occurring in Malaysia
urban area [15]. Local government has provided a large amount
of financial provision for solid waste management which more
than 50% of their annual budget [16]. However, most of the
municipal solid waste management are still facing many
problems. The level of solid waste management is
unsatisfactory and dangerous [3]. Moreover, the management

Figure 1. The Approaches of Solid Waste Disposal in Malaysia [9]

of solid waste gave rise to increasing criticism from the public

due to poor quality in some places. The quality of the service
was very unequal because of the limited funding, lack of
human resources in handling the advanced technologies for
solid waste treatment and disposal [18]. This situation is
reflecting the difficulties in implementing solid waste
management policy wholly by the Malaysian government [2].
There is a study has been conducted to identify the factors that
influence the effectiveness of policy implementation. For
instance, ineffective policy implementation was occurred in the
most developing countries because of poor governance on the
ground and ineffective of monitoring and enforcement [20].
Moreover, lack of commitment among the stakeholders also a
cause of failure in policy implementation [12]. Further, most of
the solid waste policies that enacted in developing countries
merely focus on the technical dimension, whiles the social
dimension is neglected [3].
Poor Governance on the Ground
In fact, Malaysian government has employed a good
governance concept in solid waste management through
decentralization and involving the civil citizen in decision
making [2]. However, the result from the good governance
practice by the Malaysian government is not what has been
expected on the ground. Most of the study has shown that
there is a huge gap between the official aim of the solid waste
management policy and the actual practices on the ground.
The implementation of the solid waste management policy is
look as a political process which influenced by power relations
and institutional pluralism [3]. The concept of good
governance that has been promoted by the World Bank merely
focus on what should be done which ignores the possibility of
the government might misuse the opportunity and promote the
bad governance [22]. Understand the factors that influence the
good governance would be better to improve the policy
implementation on the ground [21]. There is a need to look
into the reasons behind the normative use of governance and
critically analyse its implementation and use on the ground in
order to gain a better understanding of the outcome of the
policy [23].
Lack of Commitment among Stakeholders
The commitment among the stakeholders is crucial
required to achieve effective policy implementation. In the
context of Malaysia, the commitment among the stakeholders

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International Journal of Conceptions on Management and Social Sciences

Vol. 2, Issue. 3, Sep 2014; ISSN: 2357 2787
with regard to solid waste management policy is weak. Since
the Act 672 and Act 673 have been introduced, solid waste
management in Malaysia is coordinated by PPSPPA at local
level and National Solid Waste Management Department at
national level [3]. However, the one-sided commitment from
the government is not good enough to implement the policy
wholly. Hence, commitment from the civilian, private sector
and institutional is highly required to achieve effective policy
implementation. For instance, the source reduction policy can
be implemented through the strong commitment from the
product manufactures. The manufactures can do resource
reduction through using the fewer or less raw material for
production, designing the products that are more durable or
last longer and relying on the recyclables packaging material.
Moreover, the commitment from the household also is
important to achieve the aim of the solid waste management
policy. In fact, household is primary contribution of solid
waste in urban area [3]. Further, the failure of 3R (Reduce,
Reuse and Recycle) policy implementation in Malaysia since
2000 because of weak commitment from the households [24].
Ineffectiveness in Monitoring and Enforcement
The issue of ineffective policy monitoring and law
enforcement is not a current problem that faced in the most
developing countries. In the context of solid waste
management in Malaysia, there is a policy and Acts that
beautifully structured to improve its solid waste management.
For instance, the Act 672 has been enacted since 2007,
however is only officially implemented in 2011. Until now,
there is little impact of the Act 672 and Act 673 on the current
solid waste management in Malaysia when compared to the
actual aims of the policy [2]. More strategic monitoring
approach is required to ensure the solid waste management
policy can be compliance effectively by the civilians.
Currently, the enforcement of the Act 672 is under Solid
Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation
(SWMPCC) and this corporation has executive authority to
take over the solid waste management from the local
authorities. Hence, it has brought the confusion as well as
overlapping power of enforcement between the corporation
and local authorities [25]. Moreover, previous study has
shown that the problems related on the solid waste
management policy enforcement in Malaysia are there is not
enough man power to conduct the monitoring systematically,
enforcement officers are not properly trained which some of
them do not really know the aim of the national policy on
solid waste management and the goal of the corporation itself.
Besides that, local authorities do not have enough fund to
support enforcement effort even decentralization of the solid
waste management has been conducted [5].
Neglected of Social Dimension
In the most developing countries including Malaysia, the
social dimension in policy implementation has been neglected
[3]. The solid waste management policy in Malaysia has been
implemented based on technical dimension which is focus on
the technologies and the system. The Social dimension which
involving social trust, capacity building, and social perception

during policy implementation have been neglected [12]. The

earlier study has shown that significant interconnection exist
between social competency and policy implementation [27]. In
fact, social response to a policy will significantly influence its
effectiveness [12]. The level of compliance and cooperation of
citizen during policy implementation may depend on the social
factors. For instance, social network is significance influence
the civilians compliance with the policy by diffusion of
knowledge and information [26]. Hence, the awareness of
citizens with regard to the important of the policy can be raised
definitely. Moreover, the Malaysian government is solely
responsible for solid waste management policy formation and
implementation. Thus, trust and fairness in these institutions is
significant influence citizens behaviour to comply the solid
waste management policy [12]. Further, capacity building is a
crucial social element to enable the stakeholders understands
and tackles the crisis that we are faced in policy
implementation. The institutional capacity building framework
should involve the municipal authorities, administration,
corporate bodies, Non-Government Organizations (NGO) and
educational institutes [28]. Each of stakeholders needs to play a
pivotal role towards effective implementation of solid waste
management policy.


The purpose of the policy in solid waste management is to
enhance the way of solid waste been manage by embed the
sustainable development concept. Sustainable development has
emphasised the development that meet the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of the future generation to
meet their own needs [9]. Hence, the failure of policy
implementation on the ground has brought massive impact on
environment, economy and social development. Solid waste
pollution is very harmful to human life, degrade the quality of
environment and become a constraint towards stability of the
economy development.
Harmful to Human Health and Wellbeing
The aim of solid waste management policy is to enhance
the effectiveness solid waste management. Effective waste
management is crucial to ensure the operations do not lead to
emissions which immediately interfere with pleasures of
consumer life. In fact, the management of solid waste shall
have a goal to improve the quality of life. The ineffective solid
waste management policy implementation has brought huge
problem to human health and wellbeing. For instance, various
contaminants occur reflecting of the ineffective solid waste
management [29]. The gases emitted from the dumpsite such as
benzene, toluene, chloroform, vinyl chloride, and carbon
tetrachloride are toxic to human life [33]. Further, the methane
and carbon dioxide gasses that emitted from the dumpsite are
the main contribute to greenhouse phenomena. Besides that,
the spread of disease such as chlorella is easy to take place
around the dumpsite area. Presence of the diseases vectors such
as rodents and insects around the landfill site will worsen the
current health issues. Moreover, ineffective solid waste policy

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International Journal of Conceptions on Management and Social Sciences

Vol. 2, Issue. 3, Sep 2014; ISSN: 2357 2787
implementation will create air pollution. The occurrence of air
pollution is caused of open burning at residential area and
disposal sites. The decomposition process of solid waste at
landfill also will pollute the air and affect the health of the
civilian in the city [32]. In fact, the decomposition of the solid
waste into simple compound will require certain amount of
oxygen. Hence, this process will disrupt the development of
flora and fauna at the vicinity [30]. The effective solid waste
management is extremely required to sustain the human health
and their wellbeing in the future.
Degradation of Environmental quality
Currently, the industrial civilization relies on material like
ores and fossil fuel which different composition element from
the biosphere system. Producing and discarding of these
materials will lead to its accumulation in the biosphere which
potentially harmful to the earth. The waste resulting from high
carbon intensity will lead to the well-known surge in Carbon
Dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere with
potentially disastrous consequences for the world climate.
Moreover, our industrialized civilization clearly leave chemical
footprint in the environment. In fact, it has change the chemical
composition of some sensitive ecological compartment like air,
water and soil [31]. Whether or not an increase in the
concentration of a given compound or chemical element in an
environmental compartment is ecologically harmful or not,
depends very much on the activity it exhibits with living
systems. Many of trace deposits of heavy metals found in the
different environmental compartments are detectable but not be
harmful. Others clearly have an impact globally or locally due
to their quantities and or quality. For example some materials,
compounds and elements which not found in nature such as
xenobiotic chemicals can cause particularly harmful effect on
ecosystems and human health. The example of xenobiotic
chemical is Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which lead to the
destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer in polar region.
Furthermore, the pile of garbage in various part of land will
cause pollution which involving air, water and land pollution.
The abundant of solid waste that posed the chemical ingredient
on the land will caused land pollution. The emission of solid
waste decay will caused air pollution. In other circumstances,
water pollution occurred because of the leachate water from the
solid waste is seep into the drainage system at the settlement
through groundwater flow. This situation has brought negative
impact at the settlement sanitation systems. Moreover,
abundant of solid waste at drainage will blocked the flow of
water in the drains in the city. The same situation could lead to
flash flooding in the city during heavy rain. Besides that, the
leachate water generated from landfill is toxic to the aquatic
organisms and soil organisms which would cause fatality [19].
Hence, effective policy implementation on the solid waste
management is crucial to ensure the wellness of the natural
Constraints on the Economy Development
The economic problems of waste are due to the fact that the
waste is the material with no value. The classical economic

mechanism of supply and demand is controlling the flow of

goods which cause the fail for waste materials. Hence, they
tend to accumulate in the natural environment if no
countermeasures are taken by the authorities. Countermeasures
include regulations prohibiting the uncontrolled disposal of
waste and prescribing minimum standards for treatment and
deposit. Controlled disposal or recycling involves cost which
for example waste materials are assigned a negative economic
value in the form of a disposal fee. In exchange for disposal
fee, the economic value absence of pollution is created. The
central economic problem is allocating the cost for a clean
environment to the stakeholders. Waste management used to be
responsibility of the public domain and financed tax payers,
with little or no incentive for the consumer to diminish the rate
of waste production. In order to create incentives for waste
reduction, the polluter pays principle has been introduced and
increasingly used.
Moreover, efficient solid waste management can contribute
to the cleanliness and beauty of the city. As a result, the city is
clean and capable to attract foreign tourists to the city. In fact,
merely focused on economic development and ignore the
environment and social development is not desirable. The
phenomenon of increasing volume of solid waste is related to
lifestyle and rapid development of the community economy.
The use of raw materials that are not controlled will have a
positive impact on economic development and the needs of
society, but a negative impact on the wellbeing of the
environment [11]. Therefore, effective solid waste management
is crucial to ensure the flow of raw material is optimized.
Nowadays, recycling is a business opportunity that has grabbed
the world attention. In fact, this opportunity has been taken by
the developed countries to improve their economy as well as
providing an efficient solid waste management [5].
Implementation is about putting policies into practices, and
it is often the complex process of planning, organization,
coordination and promotion which is necessary in order to
achieve policy objectives, as an activity, implementation
constitutes an important, even central, phase in the policy
process. It is the implementation phase that translates policies
on paper into actual changes in behaviour. Approaches to
implementation are therefore of great important. In general, the
involvement of different factors in both the creation and
implementation of policy is the critical factor if policy is to
stimulate new initiatives and to integrative and to integrate
environment into industrial decision making. Thus, there is a
fundamental need to understand the more localized mechanism
by which policies are made and enacted [34].
Effective solid waste management policy implementation is
reflecting the sustainability in the solid waste management
system. Hence, policy implementation is very crucial to ensure
the goal of sustainable development can be achieve. In fact, to
achieve effective in solid waste management policy

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implementation is not an easy task but it is not impossible to be
attained [20]. In the context of developing countries which
including Malaysia, politics inevitably play a large role in solid
waste management systems. The structure, functioning, and
governance of solid waste management systems are affected by
the relationship between central and local governments. The
role of citizens in policy making processes and policy
implementation is less concerned. The effective policy
implementation should involve the citizens. Hence, it is crucial
to strike the right balance within the institutional and citizen
perspective for effective solid waste management policy
implementation [20].
Good governance requires participation and collaboration
of all relevant parties, including government, NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs), community groups and
the private sector [20]. Good governance allows the civilians to
influence policy and resource allocation [34]. Therefore, it is
essential for equitable, effective, and efficient solid waste
management policy implementation. Indeed, the efficiency,
along with the effectiveness of solid waste management in a
city is the benchmark for assessing good governance [20]. The
low income countries tend to lack the appropriate governance
institutions. Besides that, the high income countries is typically
structured with the public policy research institutions, freedom
of information laws, judicial autonomy, auditors general and
policy academies. This lack of democratic structures and
competent, representative local government creates barriers to
proper solid waste management policy implementation. Fig. 2
shows good governance practices should involving the
collaboration, participation and capacity building among
stakeholders to attain effective solid waste management.
Moreover, effective solid waste management policy
implementation requires the institutional that firmly established
to avoid controversies, ineffectiveness, inaction, and making
solid waste management systems politically unstable [20]. The
legislation as well as regulatory that has weak institutional

structure is easily devastated when urban population is keep

increasing in the future [20]. Institutional aspect in solid waste
management has included the degree of decentralization such
as distribution of the authority, functions, and responsibilities
between central and local governmental institutions. Besides
that, the capacity of responsible institutions also is crucial to
sustain the success of the policy implementation. The
institutional need to involve the current as well as the future
legislation and the extent to which it is enforced [34]. A
straightforward, transparent, unambiguous legal and regulatory
framework, including functioning inspection and enforcement
procedures at the national, provincial, and local levels, is
essential to the proper functioning of a solid waste
management policy. The weak institutional is a major issues
faced in developing countries including Malaysia nowadays
[20]. Therefore, institutional strengthening and capacity
building becomes a major driver in policy implementation.
Most of the governments including the Malaysian
Government are increasingly implementing policies that are
intended to give impact on waste management practice, and
many new initiatives have been taken in the countries around
the world over the last few years. A common problem has
emerged in most countries that have embarked on policies
promoting greater sustainability in waste management. The
adoption of policy has not been matched by an equal effort to
provide mechanism for effective policy implementation. In
fact, to improve the effectiveness of solid waste management
policy, the enactment of the law should involve the role of
management, customers, producers and whoever that will
generate the solid waste. Besides that, the customers and
producers should be exposed and nurtured regarding their role
and responsibility to cope with the environmental problem that
arising from the ineffective solid waste management. In fact,
the law solely is not enough to achieve the effective solid waste
management without the commitment and awareness from
stakeholders. Involvement of all stakeholders in the policies
implementation is very crucial to ensure the policies can be
implemented more effective in the ground. There is a country
in Asia and Europe has proven the successful of solid waste
management policy implementation by practicing good
governance. Good governance in the solid waste management
policy implementation might give an insight to developing
countries such as Malaysia towards effective solid waste



Figure 2. Good Governance Practices among Stakeholders [20]

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