WASTE is an unavoidable by-product of societies that manufacture and consume goods . Social Development Goal 12 ( SDG 12 ) recognises that we must change how we produce and consume goods for long-term development and economic growth .
It necessitates more efficient and environmentally friendly material management throughout the lifecycle , from production to consumption to disposal .
By 2030 , one of SDG 12 ’ s aim is to significantly reduce waste generation through prevention , reduction , recycling , and reuse . It also encourages large and multinational businesses to adopt sustainable practices and incorporate sustainability data into their reporting cycles .
Malaysia , which has mapped its budget initiatives to the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs ), is fully committed to SDG 12 and will prioritise sustainable consumption and production across all sectors .
Moderated by Green Renewable Organic World Centre Sdn Bhd ( GROW Centre ) Director Hock Aun Khoo , the ‘ Anchoring Green Growth on Waste Management by Adopting Sustainable Consumption and Production Holistically ’ panel discussion touched on sustainable resource consumption and waste production approaches and trends in Malaysia .
Managing waste sustainably
According to Nazar Abdul Raof , Chief Operating Officer of Alam Flora Environmental Solutions ( AFES ), AFES ’ s engagement and collaborations with clients show a positive trend with sustainable consumption and production efforts .
“ For example , we ’ ve been working with national airport for the past three years , where we ’ ve established a sorting centre and published a sustainability report for them . We also assist multinational corporations in meeting specific international sustainability standards .
“ Instead of forming a new sustainability unit , companies can collaborate with us . It is not a competition because there are so many things we need to accomplish together .”
He also emphasised the importance of education and awareness in improving national waste and resource sustainability .
“ It is critical to provide information about sustainability to raise public awareness and understanding of the concept .
“ For example , the Fasiliti Inovasi Kitar Semula ( FIKS ) education centre at Putrajaya created awareness among the public about waste management , recycling and recovery process , and we saw an increase of recycling items at recovery centres .”
Integrating sustainable strategies into operations
The cost of waste management tends to be
higher when an organisation or company does not bother to manage the residual waste they generate , according to Nurul Huda Mat Nor , President of Malaysian Environmental Professionals Practitioners ( MEPS ).
“ You can only manage waste sustainably and cost-effectively if you understand and identify the types of raw materials used and residual waste generated in the operations .”
She believes that understanding sustainable consumption and production should be fostered and integrated into company culture and operations .
According to a Harvard Business School study , Malaysia ’ s sustainability initiatives fail 99 per cent . And according to a MEPS survey conducted in Malaysia , 90 per cent of businesses have a significant gap between their strategy and operational practices .
“ We need to learn more about incorporating sustainability into overall company organisational culture and practices in Malaysia .”
“ To begin , you must first identify the activities and processes , after which you must integrate the long-term strategies into overall business plans , people management , and operational practices .
“ Aside from enforcement , it ’ s also critical to train and equip employees on sustainability-related systems and procedures .”
When a company is fully committed to cultural transformation and incorporates sustainability into its core , it will have a long-term impact and higher investment returns .
Companies used to be solely concerned with profit , Nazar explained . However , they are now focusing equally on contributions to society and the environment .
“ When it comes to doing business ,
we must prioritise sustainability , especially during the design , planning , and decision-making processes .”
Technology and data
Data and technology will drive sustainability strategy and transformation , according to Arina Kok , Climate Change and Sustainability Services ( CCaSS ) Partner from Ernst & Young Consulting Sdn Bhd .
“ In Malaysia ’ s corporate landscape , sustainability is no longer a novel concept . Bursa Malaysia has required all listed companies to report on sustainability every year since 2015 .
“ Companies must think about reducing waste and tracking resource consumption patterns . Many of these strategies will be difficult to implement without data and technology .”
She believed that having clear opensource data and statistics would assist businesses to shape their trajectory .
“ CCaSS has worked with utility companies on sustainability projects which use technology , automation , and analytics . It aids in determining where wastage occurs and providing real-time resource management monitoring .”
According to Nazar , while data and technology are important and can help with waste and resource management in urban areas , they have limitations in rural areas .
“ In rural and remote areas , internet coverage is poor , preventing us from accessing real-time data and information . As a result , different strategies are required for urban and rural areas .”
He believes that the best way to approach sustainable consumption and production in rural areas is to implement small scale sustainability strategies . — @ Green
Nazar Abdul Raof