Is Malaysia ready to embark on a “Zero Waste” Journey?

“Malaysia is on track to miss its 2020 targets to divert 40% of waste from landfill and increase recycling rates to 22%. According to the most recent stats available, almost 90% of waste was reportedly disposed to sanitary landfills, while only 10.5% was recycled.”

Dr Kok Siew Ng (Oxford) and Dr Eleni Iacovidou (Brunel University London) spent two weeks in Malaysia meeting with key stakeholders from government, academia, industry and NGOs to gain a better understanding of the country’s waste management system and propose recommendations for addressing the multiple issues faced by the waste management sector.

The article “Malaysia versus Waste”, featured in the The Chemical Engineer (July/August 2020, Volume 949/50), reports waste management situation in Malaysia and discusses Malaysia’s struggles to meet the waste management targets and what needs to be done to catalyse green progress.

“Only by simultaneously raising awareness, stricter enforcement and monitoring, and enhancing strategic planning on infrastructure will Malaysia achieve more sustainable waste management”, says Dr Kok Siew Ng and Dr Eleni Iacovidou.

Links to Publication

The full article can be accessed via: (subscription required) (free access)


This work was part of the SYNERGORS initiatives and was written based on the outcomes of a series of interviews with the government agencies and local authorities in Malaysia. This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council through the UKRI/NERC Industrial Innovation Fellowship Programme (NE/R012938/1).

The authors also gratefully acknowledge:

  • Prof. Denny KS Ng (Heriot-Watt University Malaysia) and Dr. Wan Azlina Wan Ab Karim Ghani (Universiti Putra Malaysia) for their kind hospitality and arrangement with stakeholders;
  • Ir. Abdul Nasir bin Abdul Aziz (JPSPN) for his sharing his knowledge in solid waste management in Malaysia;
  • Dr. Mohd Pauze bin Mohamad Taha, Ir. Zulkifli bin Tamby Chik and Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto (SWCorp), for an insightful discussion;
  • Puan Norhaizey Binti Hj. Issia (Petaling Jaya City Council, MBPJ) for showing us around the SS2 anaerobic digestion facility.

Further information

Please contact Dr Kok Siew Ng ( if you are interested in learning more about the project.

SYNERGORS – A multidisciplinary research consortium for organic waste management and valorisation using a systems thinking approach

Most of the resources embedded in waste are currently under-utilised and are mostly sent to landfill. This can pose serious environmental hazards and pollution, affecting human health and ecosystems. If these wastes can be better managed and resources can be recovered into useful products such as chemicals, fuels and energy, this would meet the soaring industrial and consumers’ demand in the future. Enhancing resource utilisation through efficient organic resource recovery and valorisation promotes the transition from a linear “take-make-dispose” model towards a circular and sustainable bioeconomy.

The SYNERGORS project (“A systems approach to synergistic utilisation of secondary organic streams”), funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and led by Dr Kok Siew Ng (Engineering Science, Oxford), aims to develop new systems approaches and strategies for promoting resource recovery from secondary organic waste streams (e.g. food waste, residual biomass). The project addresses various socio-environmental challenges faced by human and living communities, the rising global demands in energy and commodities, and lessening burdens on the landfill, water and atmosphere. The objectives of the project are well aligned with the UK Industrial Strategy in enhancing resource efficiency while achieving a sustainable industrial growth and a more resilient economy. The project has received support from more than 10 UK and international organisations, providing multidisciplinary expertise to address the global challenges in waste management.

SYNERGORS consortium is a founding partner of CRES.

Further information

Please contact Dr Kok Siew Ng ( if you are interested in learning more about the project.