Tuesday, March 28

Student-led project supports waste management efforts


SWS project team members pose for group photo with MCC representatives during the dialogue session.

MIRI: Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) students have initiated a year-long solid waste management project with support from the university’s Faculty of Engineering and Science and the local community, since Sept 2020.

The ‘Smart World Sustainability’ (SWS) project team consists of students from different study disciplines who are passionate about environmental conservation and sustainability.

The aim is to create a sustainable collection network for segregated solid wastes such as plastic and paper through the development of innovative digital solutions to supplement the existing solid waste management system in Miri.

The project’s scope covers waste collection, separation and transportation to partnering recycling centres and facilities run by the local authorities. It also aims to promote awareness of sustainable and responsible management of solid wastes and participation by various businesses, institutions and the public in the initiative.

According to the project manager, final-year chemical engineering student Paul Tinotenda Nyamtowo, the motivation behind the project stemmed from observation of the state of the environment and issues regarding environmental protection and sustainability.

He said improperly disposed plastic and paper – especially plastic – are the main causes of environmental degradation and climate change as far as municipal solid waste is concerned.

“Something needs to be done, especially by the younger generation, to secure and assure a sustainable tomorrow. Through this project, we hope to spark mass attention, movement and engagement in all matters regarding environmental sustainable practises and systems by first taking a lead in managing solid waste that we generate daily,” said Paul in a press statement yesterday.

Three other team members, Rebekah Min Majoy, Alexandra Jacklya and Michael Luke Ho Gwanjie, attended a dialogue session with Miri City Council (MCC) last October to discuss possible collaboration with MCC, as well as to gain insights and exchange ideas concerning solid waste management, recycling and environmental sustainability in Miri City.

During the dialogue session, the team learned that MCC works in line with the nation’s commitment to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are part of the world body’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda).

Paul added that several issues and challenges concerning city-wide solid waste management were also discussed.

Among them, a lack of awareness and compliance by the general public remain the biggest challenges to the implementation of various solid waste management approaches by MCC, such as the ongoing ‘No Plastic Bag’ campaign.

The SWS project team is ready to collaborate with MCC to support and develop a culture of sustainability and environmental protection in the city.

“Besides MCC, the team has received expressions of interest to participate in the project from businesses and institutions such as Bintang Megamall, Coco Cabana and Knewton Global Schools, and is looking forward to wider support from the community,” he added.

Meanwhile head of Chemical Engineering Department at Faculty of Engineering and Science, Dr. Stephanie Chan, and senior lecturer Dr Lau Shiew Wei, who were advisors to the SWS project team, have expressed pride in the students and their project.

They said it is a good opportunity for students to apply their knowledge and skills for the betterment of the community in terms of solid waste management and environmental sustainability.

The SWS project team welcomes opportunities for partnership and collaboration from interested parties, and can be contacted by email at WasteManagement@curtin.edu.my.

The team can also be found on Facebook (Smart World Sustainability Solid Waste Management project), Instagram (swastemproject) and LinkedIn (smart world sustainability project).