Creating a Circular Economy through Food Waste
Malaysia is a food paradise. Walk a mile on any busy area and we are spoilt for choice. However, that also results in a huge amount of food wastage. In the latest findings by the Solid Waste Corporation (SW Corp), Malaysians generate 16,688 tonnes of food waste everyday, which is enough to feed up to 12 million people daily. And, when the festive seasons come by, the amount increases by 15 to 20 percent.
Food waste that ends up in landfills produces a large amount of methane – a more powerful greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide. According to the United Nations, food waste alone causes 10 percent of greenhouse gases.
At Gamuda, we understand that proper food waste management goes a long way. We believe that by adopting a circular economy, we can reduce the bulk of waste that goes to the landfills, resulting in efficient use of land and water use and ultimately, leaving a positive impact on climate change and livelihoods.
That’s why we launched a Group-wide Plate to Plant Programme, a waste management initiative at our headquarters in Menara Gamuda and our Gamuda Land’s development, in Jade Hills, Kajang to reduce the food waste generated from the office blocks and commercial dining outlets.
Food composting machines were installed at Menara Gamuda and Jade Hills to collect up to 100kg of food waste daily at each site, while our employees, residents and food operators were encouraged to support this initiative by throwing leftovers into designated bins.
In the past, all food waste was simply thrown away into the bin without being sorted, and thereafter sent to the landfill. “We were practicing what’s called a linear economy method. Your food waste generally gets discarded and goes straight into the landfill. Unfortunately, probably as high as 90 percent of Malaysian’s food waste goes into the landfill. And it’s a known fact that landfills are generally a source of water contamination as well as air pollution because of the methane gas,” explained General Manager and the Chief Sustainability Officer for Gamuda Group Corporate Communications and Sustainability, Ong Jee Lian.
Composting is one way to achieve long term sustainability for the environment. And, the best way to do that is by using the Circular Economy model. “This method is quite popular already and has been adopted by many countries which recycles resources through a closed-loop system. This is where recyclable material like food waste is diverted from landfills and re-used instead.
The compost we create at Menara Gamuda and Jade Hills is a natural fertiliser that will be distributed to nurture our landscapes in all Gamuda Land townships across the country. We believe that by pouring this nutrient-rich compost back into the soil, we can feed diverse life in the soil. Fungi, bacteria, insects and worms found in compost will better support soil health and plant growth – ultimately promoting resilience in coping with harsher weather conditions.
“I think it’s time for us to ask ourselves or spark that curiosity in us. Can food waste be an avenue to enhance biodiversity? Can food waste be a chance for you to create new food?” Jee Lian expresses.
With the Plate to Plant Programme, we can reduce the carbon footprint as well as the environmental impact, and recover the value of food waste in an environmental, social and governance (ESG) manner of managing waste. It is one of our ways to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and play a role in the Paris Agreement in climate action.