News: Towards a Zero Waste NUS

ISCN 2021 Award for Cultural Change

NUS was awarded the International Sustainable Campus Excellence Award 2021 (Cultural Change for Sustainability category) for its long-term plan in promoting behavioural change for a zero waste campus. The award recognises NUS’ vision and plan to be a zero waste campus in 10 years and its achievements in significantly improving the campus recycling rate to 30 per cent in FY2020 from 9 per cent in FY2012.

The heart of NUS’s zero waste journey is to drive a whole-of-university behavioural change where the staff and student community conscientiously sort their waste as a norm, and turn waste into useful resources.

Mr Loo Deliang (left) sharing on NUS’ plan to achieve cultural sustainability for zero waste, in a session moderated by Mr David Havelick, Harvard University Senior Sustainability Manager

The big leap of NUS’ zero waste journey

“NUS is delighted to receive the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) Award for Cultural Change in Sustainability for our zero waste campus initiative. The university has a public service mission to shape the hearts and minds of our students to be sustainability champions and future leaders of our workforce. The award underscores the importance of this mission in the transition towards a more sustainable future,” said Dr Peck Thian Guan, previous Chairman of the NUS Zero Waste Taskforce from 2015 to 2020.

In achieving this cultural change, Mr Loo Deliang, current Chairman of the NUS Zero Waste Taskforce shared at the award ceremony presentation about the university’s three-pronged approach of “Heartware, Hardware and Software” to instill pride and the 4Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Reimagine) in the NUS community.

NUS zero waste campus 2030 targets

The main idea is to use the campus as a testbed for students and staff to pilot and scale up projects to address perennial challenging waste issues while embedding visible cues in the campus infrastructure, and providing feedback to make waste recycling a norm.

Three-pronged approach to realising a zero waste NUS

In working towards creating such a campus norm of waste sorting, Mr Tommy Cheong, NUS alumnus from Industrial Design Division Class of 2020, shared on how his Recycle Right bin project reduced the contamination rate in recycling bins from about 60 per cent to 27 per cent. Encouraged by the success of this project, the Waste Minimisation & Recycling Taskforce has implemented the new bins on campus, starting progressively with University Town and Faculty of Engineering precincts; and will be introducing more sorting for key material streams.

Next generation of Recycle Right bins, designed by Mr Tommy Cheong

The Zero Waste Campus 2030 project was also one of the 37 projects to be recently awarded funding from the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment’s SG Eco Fund.

The ISCN Sustainable Campus Excellence Awards (Cultural Change for Sustainability) recognises projects that instill a campus culture of sustainability. Winners of the ISCN Sustainable Campus Excellence 2021 Awards in other categories are Covenant University, University of Leeds and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

View the presentation slides here.

Article published on NUS News, 27 May 2021.