Turning Waste Into Gems: UTAR Teams Up With Biotech Company for a Greener Future
What if the country’s waste management problem could be solved by insects? Find out how.
Published 07 Nov 2023
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) has taken a proactive role in spearheading efforts in waste production by introducing a waste-management project for its final year undergraduate students.
With a staggering 36,699 tonnes of waste generated each day, food waste as well as industries like palm oil pose a grave threat to the environment. Concerned about the growing environmental hazard, Dr Lam Ming Quan and Dr Ee Kah Yaw, both distinguished faculty members of UTAR's Faculty of Science, sought to make a change by exposing their students to BioLoop Sdn Bhd.
Founded by two young entrepreneurs, BioLoop is a biotech company located in Teluk Intan, Perak that cultivates insects for organic waste management and as a sustainable food protein.
In particular, the black soldier fly larvae are known for their incredible ability to consume organic waste. They act as nature's recyclers, digesting waste in their stomachs and converting it into nutrients that can be used to produce food or animal and fish feed. Additionally, the residue they excrete during their growth can be turned into fertiliser with the help of microorganisms, providing valuable nutrients for crops. Not only that but the black soldier fly larvae themselves are rich in protein, boast a comprehensive amino acid profile and are high in energy, making it a suitable protein source for livestock.
During the field study, students from various departments of UTAR Faculty of Science, including Biotechnology, Food Science, Microbiology and Agricultural Science, received firsthand experience of the potential of their respective fields. This practical exposure, which is especially rare in a post-pandemic world, ignited their enthusiasm for future careers. The students not only witnessed the exciting potential of waste conversion but also collected waste samples from the company for further experiments.
Malaysia's waste problem may seem insurmountable but with keen collaboration from educators, students and the industry, there is hope on the horizon. UTAR's educational approach goes beyond traditional learning by cultivating a problem-solving mindset amongst its undergraduate students.