Zero-Waste towards a Sustainable Community


Balik Pulau
Community Size
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Centre for Global Sustainability Studies
Case Type
Partnership Stories
Asia, Global, Malaysia
Sustainable Development Goals
11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, 13 Climate Action

The Zero-Waste towards a Sustainable Community project was created to help the community to establish a waste management programme that suits the community well, trains the community on best practices of waste management toward zero waste, and increases community awareness of waste management. The Centre for Global Sustainability Studies (CGSS), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), has collaborated with Penang Green Council (PGC) to meet the goals of the project by working with the community at Balik Pulau, Penang.

Balik Pulau is a town within the jurisdiction of Penang Island City Council, located on the southwest of Penang Island. The town has a population of 23,559, with the elderly forming the majority of the residents.

The students from Public Sector Economics and Tourism Economics courses from the university were invited to assist the community with the implementation of the whole training activities as a group. The students used the project activities as their case study that required them to fulfil their fieldwork tasks. The students also attended meetings between the university, the city partner, and the community to discuss additional activities.

From October 2021 to February 2022, CGSS and PGC organized one symposium on Zero-Waste and four workshops for the community, namely Waste to Wealth, Composting, Waste Segregation, and Plastic Recycling. The outputs of these activities have benefited the community in terms of waste management knowledge and method of waste reduction. Both symposium and workshops session has provided a practical experience to the community.

Through the symposium, the community and students have gained general knowledge on waste management and how to practice the overall concept of waste management. The symposium exposed them to current waste management methods, systems, and practices to dispose of and eliminate wastes in Malaysia. Leading faculty shared knowledge of zero-waste, recycling, waste reduction, 5Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle), composting, and waste categories with participants during the symposium.

The symposium helped the students a lot in planning activities for implementing community workshops. Accordingly, four workshops to train the community on best practices of waste management toward zero waste, and the outputs of these workshops have provided many benefits to society.

For the first workshop, the community learned how to turn home material waste like empty bottles, straw, and cardboard into wealth.

In the second workshop session, the community made home composting systems using organic waste like vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells, and food waste.

During the third workshop session, they segregated waste according to waste categories.

In the final workshop session, the community converted plastic waste into new products.

Many students enjoyed their experiences. One student shared their appreciation of their new abilities by incorporating his creative and artistic idea to create a storage box, instead of purchasing a new one. Another student commented that she learned how to make a unique and more-environmental-friendly phone and gadget holder from waste. More reflections from students can be found here.

The only downside of this event was its occurrence during the Covid-19 pandemic which caused some hardship in finding community participants as there are a lot of restrictions that need to pay attention to.

Partnership Contact Information

Penang Green Council Contact
Josephine Tan Mei Ling
General Manager
Penang Green Council

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