Overconsumption, Waste and Climate Change: What Can We Do?

Find out which category of waste is the highest in Malaysia and how individuals can help make it more sustainable

Professor Agamutu’s 6 recommendations for all levels of society to a better waste management shared during the Campus with Conscience webinar

“Only 20% of municipal solid waste (MSW) was effectively recycled,” Professor Agamutu Pariatamby of Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development specialising in Solid and Hazardous Waste Management shared in the inaugural of Campus with Conscience webinar series organised by Sunway University.

The highest portion of MSW generated is food waste at 45%, and plastic waste represents the second highest at 13% of the total MSW in Malaysia, he said, citing that as food sector accounts for the world’s 30% total energy consumption while emitting 22% of total greenhouse gas which is proven to have contributed to climate change hazard.

“Since 1970, the population has doubled but material consumption quadrupled,” he said, mentioning that the food security is at risk due to land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, overfishing and marine environment degradation to were United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) acting as a measure to help people of the world move towards development that meets the needs of the present while also not compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Overconsumption, Waste and Climate Change: What Can We Do?
Campus with Conscience inaugural episode webinar poster

Citing SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production as the reference for every level in society to take action in reducing waste, Prof Agamuthu said the highly prioritised action towards a balanced waste management hierarchy for developing nations in Asia, would be waste reduction and sustainable consumption and production.

As solutions, Professor Agamuthu then presented six recommendations which placed building more reliable and comprehensive data of waste-related statistics as the very first. He added that most of the data presented in the webinar are by his own team and while there are national-level data made available by the SWCorp and Department of Environment, more research could help decisions towards waste sustainability to be more effective.

When being asked what would be the one thing to adopt by everyone at home’s daily routine to help with alleviating the waste problem, Professor Agamuthu in a heartbeat suggested, “Reduce consumption,” adding that consumptions are very high at the moment and by taking this very action would help everything fall into place eventually.

The one hour webinar could be viewed on Sunway University’s Facebook page here.