Green campus targets zero waste


Gotong royong participants painting railings on the university ground.

UNIVERSITI Putra Malaysia (UPM) is committed in its efforts to become a sustainable green campus with the best environmental management systems and practices.

UPM’s reputation as a university with a green campus is cemented by its listing on the Ui-Greenmetric World University Rankings 2018 as the best 32 universities in the world.

A poster of the Zero Waste Campus campaign.

The ranking places UPM third in Asia, second in Southeast Asia and first in the country for nine years running since 2010.

“To support the government’s conservation efforts and maintain UPM’s reputation as a green campus, we are committed to empowering its green sustainable programmes, especially among the campus community,” UPM Bintulu campus director Prof Dr Bujang Kim Huat told thesundaypost.

Prof Dr Bujang Kim Huat

The campus recently launched its Zero Waste Campus programme, based on the concept of Reduce (take less), Reuse (use responsibly), Recycle (add back) and Repair (make better). Among the main thrusts are zero use of plastic materials and polystyrene, environmental protection and gotong royong and other related activities.

“What this means is that all food stall operators at Medan Selera food court and Residential College 2 UPMKB (Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Campus) will not supply plastic or polystyrene food containers to customers and only paper and biodegradable food containers are allowed,” Prof Bujang explained.

Students and staff, he added, were also encouraged to bring their own food containers if they opted for takeaways.

According to him, the programme includes food preparation for the entire staff and student campus activities aimed at inculcating a positive attitude and a wholesome culture. For promotional purposes, UPMKB has appointed 15 student ambassadors to give the campus the widest exposure to the implementation of the Zero Waste Programme.

Prof Bujang admitted the programme posed a daunting challenge but he believed with the support and cooperation of all parties involved, it could be successfully carried out.

“The programme will not stop here. Our campus has already started the electricity and water saving campaign. Based on 2018 data, we have managed to save 17.09 per cent electricity and 10.9 per cent water in terms of consumption rate.”

He said apart from promoting zero-waste lifestyle among the campus community, UPMKB had also conducted continuous research and development (R&D) in related fields.

Researchers testing the biodiesel equipment.

Biodiesel from cooking oil

Prof Bujang revealed a biorefinery project was underway at the Bintulu campus and once fully commissioned, UPMKB would be able to recycle used cooking oil into biodiesel for use by heavy machinery.

UPMKB biorefinery researchers and post-graduate students in front of the UPM Serdang biorefinery plant.

“The use of such cooking oil will provide an alternative for reproducing biodiesel to reduce the effects of global warming and emission of green gas into the environment. These bio-products will be used as a source of renewable energy in the campus to support the Sarawak government’s initiative under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

“It is hoped setting up this facility will help Sarawak take lead in the field of biomass energy and promote UPMKB as an active institution in providing project consultation and relevant support to the state government.”

He said the bio-refinery at UPMKB would focus on turning the palm oil biomass and other organic wastes into value-added products such as biochar, biodiesel, biogas and biocompost.

He is optimistic that the facility will attract interests from the ministries, public and private sectors, universities, schools and the local communities.

“It will become a pioneer exhibition factory not only for research but also policy development and community projects. Moreover, we can also improve our capacity for UPMKB to become a pioneer of zero waste campus in our effort to produce three renewable energy products — biodiesel from used cooking oil, biogas from domestic solid waste and biochar from landscape waste.”

He said as the only research university in Borneo and with the vast industrial growth in Bintulu, UPMKB should be able to move consistently with its research and development programmes.

A biogas reactor for turning food waste into cooking gas.

Success example

UPMKB Engineering Department senior lecturer Dr Nozieana Khairuddin said the biorefinery at UPM Serdang exemplified the success of one such pioneer project in Malaysia.

Dr Nozieana Khairuddin

She added that following a major R&D breakthrough in UPM Serdang, a similar project was proposed for its Bintulu campus to further develop the facility with the technology transfer now being made.

“The total cost is about RM350,000. Basically, the project will involve a facility to produce three things — biodiesel, biogas and biochar,” Nozieana told thesundaypost.

According to her, the project has actually started although at the moment, all the machines are still at the main campus in Serdang waiting for a proper location to set up the facility at UPMKB.

“Our biorefinery research team has been undergoing a series of training in Serdang. From this project, a thesis has been produced by a student from the Bio Science and Bio Industry course in UPMKB on turning used cooking oil into diesel,” Dr Nozieana said.

Several research frameworks had also been planned to ensure the UPMKB biorefinery plant could produce a high impact research for the local communities.

UPM students and staff being briefed on their gotong-royong tasks.