12 October 2018

University of Malaya implements the 'Zero Waste Campaign' as a contribution to sustainability

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), as part of its outreach efforts about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, shares this story submitted by the University of Malaya, a UNAI member institution located in Malaysia, on an initiative in line with the UNAI principle on sustainability.

12 October 2018 - The University of Malaya (Malaysia), a member institution of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), has been implementing the Zero Waste Campaign (UM ZWC) aimed to achieve a campus with zero waste to landfill with the development of an integrated and sustainable waste management model. It is estimated that waste from all academic institutions amounted to approximately 1,500 tonnes per day, which represents up to 10% of the total waste generated in Malaysia.

Universities worldwide are embracing the move towards sustainability, including the University of Malaya. The UM ZWC as one of the university’s longest and most consistent sustainability 'living labs', is developed to spearhead the creation of a sustainable waste management model and ultimately achieve the status of a zero waste campus. Besides environmental benefits, UM ZWC also provides research opportunities, contributes to the University's Low Carbon City Framework target and serves as a platform to improve students’ soft and entrepreneur skills.

Furthermore, UM ZWC has assisted several local communities to develop sustainable waste management systems including communal composting projects. UM ZWC looks to increase the current recycling capacity to more than 30 tonnes/month (recycling rate: 20%) by 2020. The first phase of the campaign aims to increase the capacity of organic waste composting, the formalization of recycling collection as well as a robust waste tracking and data collection mechanism.

In the next 5-10 years, the UM ZWC initiative will play a vital role in the collection of recyclable materials and the organic waste recycling, while kitchen waste will be treated anaerobically.

Partnerships with local and foreign organizations, government agencies and private entities will be intensified to introduce environmental-friendly waste sorting, recovery and treatment technologies. Multi-stakeholders participation, support from top management and industrial collaboration are key factors that drive the development of sustainable waste management model in the campus. UM ZWC serves as an institutional sustainable and integrated waste management model and contributes to the national recycling target while bringing benefits the planet and the society at large. So far, in the context of its economic dimension, with the monthly reduction of about 6-7 pulls of open top bin hauled to landfill, a total of 151,274 RM (Malaysia Ringgit, which is Malaysia's national currency) of waste disposal cost has been saved since inception.