On Trash, Landfill, & Garbage Soup.

6 min readSep 4, 2019

Bringing you into a level 1 landfill in Malaysia.

Like how we always wonder where life goes in afterlife, I’ve always wonder about the final destination of a garbage truck. Google surfaces results that offer very little room for imagination, it points the final destination of it to the landfill, incinerator or simply, the ‘dump’. End of story.

It offers too little room to answer the following questions:

  • Where is the afterlife of the razor I am done with after months, the molded tofu I’ve forgotten about, my emptied almond milk carton?
  • Are the recyclable items being sorted at the factory as part of the landfill? Is there even any machinery system that sorts out waste?
  • Is the landfill safe? Toxic?
  • What is happening at the incinerator?

All of these questions have to be answered with an actual visit or learn through a credible media that reports with full integrity. We lack the latter, so I decided to drive for 2:30 p.m from Kuala Lumpur to find out all of these questions that have been itching my curiosity bugs. Please allow me to be that journalist whom you never knew you needed, wink*.

The one I visited was considered as Level I landfill that is managed by the local municipality. I obtained permission from a guy (he shall never be named) from the Majlis and a scholar who is doing a feasibility study there. The Majlis guy specifically said “For study purpose only. Strictly no viral purpose.”, and naturally, I be like of course sir, this is just for a philomath to study what she’s curious about….and also to inform other philomaths who are interested in the same kind of learning and ‘studying’. Right?

Philomath: a lover of learning and studying.


Does it smell bad?

No, it doesn’t. Level 1 landfill, when managed properly, frequently layers garbage with odor controlling matters (it could be soil, or synthetic matters) that mask the potential sewer-like smell.

How does it look like?

Basically, the landfill is just a big hole in the ground. Literally a big hole in the ground, with a…