• umsdc@um.edu.my
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With the growing number of universities, the population of each campus is significant and generates waste that causes adverse impacts on the environment. It is estimated that waste from all academic institutions amounted to approximately 1,500 tonnes per day, which represents 5-10% of the total waste generated in Malaysia. Universities worldwide are embracing the move toward sustainability, including UM as the premier university in Malaysia which set an agenda for sustainable development goals since the year 2009. University of Malaya Zero Waste Campaign (UM ZWC) is one of the university’s longest and most consistent sustainability living labs, it is developed to spearhead the development of a sustainable waste management model in the campus and ultimately achieve the status of a zero-waste campus. UM ZWC has the following goal and objectives:   

Goal: To achieve a campus with zero waste to landfill with the development of an integrated and sustainable waste management model


  1. To develop policy and innovation systems to divert solid waste (non-hazardous) from disposal in landfills for resource and energy recovery.

  2. To streamline recycling activities and strategize efforts to increase the recycling rate.

  3. To create awareness and inculcate the best practices of waste separation at source among the campus communities.

  4. To form a strategic partnerships with various stakeholders to develop an integrated waste management system.


Solid waste generation in Malaysia is increasingly rising, from 30,000 tonnes/day in 2013 to 38,000 tonnes/day to date. The official recycling rate announced by the Federal Government in 2013 was 10.5%. There are 176 landfills in the country, however, only eight are sanitary landfills while the rest are open dumpsites.  The 10th Malaysia Plan target the recycling rate to be 22% by 2020. It is essential to achieve this and cut down on food waste disposal in landfills, in order to reduce the negative environmental impacts, reduce greenhouse gases emission, and develop sustainable solid waste management comparable with developed countries.

University of Malaya Zero Waste Campaign (UM ZWC) is one of the UM living labs under The Sustainability Science Research Cluster. It was set up to spearhead the development of a sustainable waste management model in UM and ultimately achieve the status of a zero-waste campus. Besides environmental benefits, UM ZWC also provides research opportunities for teaching and learning, contributes to UM Low Carbon City Framework (LCCF) target, and serves as a platform to improve students’ soft skills and entrepreneurial skills. Furthermore, UM ZWC has assisted several local communities to develop sustainable waste management systems including communal composting projects through various collaborations and partnerships.

UM ZWC aims 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, formalization of recycling collection as well as robust waste tracking and data collection mechanism. In the next 5-10 years, UM ZWC will play a vital role to formalize the collection of recyclable materials in UM and further increase organic waste recycling, while kitchen waste will be treated anaerobically with AD and aerobically with in-vessel composting. Collaborations 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 a sustainable waste management model on campus. UM ZWC serves as an institutional sustainable and integrated waste management model and contributes to the national recycling target while bringing benefits to Mother Earth and society at large.


UM ZWC has contributed significantly to environmental protection with the diversion of a total of more than 1,141,190 kg of different wastes from disposal to landfill with its recycling and on-site treatment in UM since the year 2010. The waste streams collected separately are food waste and green waste for in-house composting and anaerobic digestion, used clothes for reuse and recycling, wood waste for energy recovery for a local independent power plant, materials recyclables for re-processing as secondary materials, and e-waste for recycling. From analysis using LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) approach, a total of more than 5,341,576 kg CO2-eq emission has been avoided by the integrated and sustainable projects under UM ZWC.

In terms of social benefits, UM ZWC has provided training to more than 12,000 individuals from various local and international organizations since its inception in the year 2010. Every year, there are about 60-70 delegates who visit UM ZWC center with about 10-50 people per delegate. These visitors come to UM ZWC for learning knowledge in biological treatment such as composting and anaerobic digestion, separate collection, and integrated waste management at the campus level.

In the context of the economic dimension, with the monthly reduction of about 6-7 pulls of open-top bins hauled to landfills, a total of more than RM390,000 of waste disposal costs has been saved since inception. Besides, a total of RM38,000 amount of proceeds from the selling of used clothes from UM campus were donated to several charity bodies.

With an expansion of the Circular Economy approach carried out by UM ZWC with Organic Farming and Capacity Building training, a total of more than RM100,958 has been generated as income generation for the University. All of these make up the total monetary gain since 2010, a total of RM490,958 for the University from this initiative. 

General Policy Statement on Sustainable and Healthy Food on Campus Initiatives

a) UM via UM Zero Waste Campaign (UM ZWC) and its other counterpart both internal and external are fully aware of the impact that procurement, storage, production, consumption, and wastage has on the environment and the need to ensure that the Sustainable and Healthy Food Initiatives via Circular Economy approach supports the University's environmental policies and practices. Due to the nature of our diverse food and drink business we will encourage and continue to support urban farming practices in particular the organic vegetables in this initial phase that is already in place at the UM ZWC site. This Sustainable and Healthy Food on Campus initiative is supported by the Procurement Division, UM Bursar through the enforcement of licensing, agreement, as well as continuous monitoring of the food premises on campus by the Occupational Safety, Health & Environment Office (OSHE).

[UM Sustainable and Healthy Food Initiatives on Campus: June 2019]

UM Bursar: https://bendahari.um.edu.my/index

OSHE UM: https://umresearch.um.edu.my/oshe-umresearch

b) Scope of the Policy: This policy is focused on but not limited to the provision and procurement of food at The University. It applies to all aspects of sustainable and healthy food,
i) Procurement
ii) Preparation
iii) Food waste and waste management
iv) Growing
v) Education
vi) Climate change and carbon emissions

All suppliers, as well as food and canteen premises operators, will be expected to assist the University in meeting the sustainable and healthy food policy. 

LATEST: UM ZWC Annual Report 2021

Last Update: 20/03/2024