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Courtesy visit to Penang Green Council


Dr Kok Siew Ng (University of Oxford) and Dr Eleni Iacovidou (Brunel University London), in collaboration with the Founder and also the President of Higher Education Youth Association (HEYA), Mr Tze Howe Ooi, met the Vice Chairman of Penang Green Council, YB Phee Boon Poh to discuss the issues and challenges of solid waste and wastewater management in Penang state. It is worth noting that not all state governments in Malaysia are under the governance of the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) implemented by the federal administration. Penang is one of those states, therefore responsible for its own solid waste management.

YB Phee is a Member of the Penang State Legislative Assembly and the Executive Councillor for Welfare, Caring Society and Environment. YB Phee is a visionary leader in the field of environmental management and urban planning. He talked about various initiatives that he introduced in Penang, including the ban of polystyrene packaging in 2010, the promotion of source-segregation of municipal waste into wet and dry streams, and the introduction of a partial ban on the use of single-use plastic bags every Monday. These initiatives have made Penang the leading state in Malaysia in implementing green environment policies. YB Phee shared future plans in employing fiscal measures (e.g. increasing the landfill tax, incentivising new technologies) to promote alternative options for municipal solid waste management, and the development of education programmes to raise awareness.

Dr Ng says, “It is very impressive the efforts YB Phee has put over the past 10 years in making Penang a greener place to live. We hope that Penangites could soon realise the importance of making Penang a greener city and play a part in supporting his initiatives.” The team is very keen to support YB Phee for his future plan in diverting more waste from landfills and enhancing circular economy in the state.



The SYNERGORS project (“A systems approach to synergistic utilisation of secondary organic streams”), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is led by Dr Kok Siew Ng from the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. This project aims to develop new systems approaches and decision-making tools for promoting resource recovery from secondary organic waste streams including fossil- (e.g. used plastics) and biomass-derived waste (e.g. food waste, residual biomass).

SYNERGORS will provide significant insights into various options for organic waste reduction and utilisation, and propose viable business models to attract stakeholders in the commercial sectors to invest in these areas. Furthermore, the research will address 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.

It is envisaged that the outcomes from this project (e.g. decision-making tool and roadmap) can be adopted in the UK and other developing countries in improving the policies and practices in relation to organic waste management. 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 a number of UK and international organisations (academia, industry and government), providing multidisciplinary expertise to address the global challenges in waste management.


Dr Ng would like to express his gratitude to the NERC (now part of UKRI) for their invaluable support for this initiative. The British Council is also acknowledged as initial collaboration between the UK and Malaysia was first established through Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop. The current fellowship project funded by NERC has enabled further collaboration to be sustained for the next few years.

Dr Ng would also like to thank Professor Ir. Dr. Denny KS Ng (Associate Head of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia), Associate Professor Ir. Dr. Wan Azlina bt. Wan Abdul Karim Ghani (Director of Sustainable Process Engineering Research Centre - SPERC, UPM) and Mr Tze Howe Ooi (President of Higher Education Youth Association - HEYA) for arranging the meetings and visits in Malaysia.

Further information

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