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UTAR Faculty of Science (FSc) Joins Hands With Industry, Transforming Waste Into Gems

October 4, 2023 | Campus News

A certain radio news broadcast reported that up to 36,699 tons of waste are produced in Malaysia every day. Among them, food waste accounts for a substantive amount. Moreover, the waste produced by the industry aggravates the hazard towards the environment. Take for example, the waste from the palm oil industry could reach as high as 80 million tons per year. 

“As a university lecturer, how can we make changes to this situation?” UTAR Faculty of Science (FSc) academics Dr Lam Ming Quan and Dr Ee Kah Yaw mused on this issue.

“In one of the discussions later, we decided to introduce a waste management-related project as our final year project for undergraduate students. By a stroke of luck, we brought our students on a field study to the nearby BioLoop Sdn Bhd, a biotech company that cultivates insects as the next generation of sustainable food protein,” Dr Lam and Dr Ee added. The two young owners of the company, who returned from studying abroad, now settle in Teluk Intan, Perak. They built their dreams at the small town while making contribution to the future of biotech.

Yet one may ask. Why are we looking for insects when we only wish to study the management of waste? What is their connection? Can it even make money?

Well, they do. Black soldier fly larvae are a type of insect that consumes any organic waste. Describing the insects as the bearers of great ability is no exaggeration. They are the connoisseurs of organic waste, digesting the waste in their stomachs and then absorbing them as nutrients to be reconstructed as muscle. Such a process converts organic waste into a new generation of food protein, which could be utilised as raw material for food production or animal and fish feed after processing. Besides, the frass excreted by the larvae during their growth can be turned into fertiliser with the help of microorganisms to provide nutrients for crops, thus realising the concept of turning waste into gems once again. These processes mark the engagement of different fields of sciences as they strive for a zero-waste future!

“Listening to the young owners’ explanation on the cultivation process of larvae, coupled with the food sampling of roasted larvae by the students, our minds can’t help but cried, ‘how exciting!’ These kinds of practical experiences are indeed not available in the classroom. They are extremely rare experiences, especially for children after the pandemic. The engaged students were from different departments of FSc, including students from Biotechnology, Food Science, Microbiology, Agricultural Science programmes. This visit has made them realise the prospects of studying in their respective programmes, and at the same time evoked their zeal towards their future professions! Not to mention, the students fulfilled their objectives during the visit, as they brought waste samples back from the company. They will subsequently conduct experiments on the waste samples and strive to explore new possibilities in turning waste into gems,” enthused Dr Lam and Dr Ee. 

The importance of science should never be disregarded. A country’s prosperity is mainly dependent on the sustainable incomes deriving from new inventions.

Still hesitant on which programme to immerse yourself in? We welcome you to learn more about our science programmes at UTAR Kampar Campus. Undergraduate programmes offered by UTAR Faculty of Science (FSc) include Agricultural Science, Food Science, Biomedical Science, Dietetics, Biotechnology, Microbiology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Logistics and International Shipping, and Statistical Computing and Operations Research. Postgraduate programmes such as Master of Science, Master of Science (Mathematics), Master of Science in Biological Science, Doctor of Philosophy (Science), Doctor of Philosophy (Mathematics), and Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Science are also available.

UTAR offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in areas including Accountancy, Actuarial Science, Applied Mathematics, Arts, Chinese Studies, Malaysia Studies, Business and Economics, Biotechnology, Engineering and Build Environment, Information and Communication Technology, Life and Physical Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences, Media and Journalism, Education and General Studies, and Agriculture and Food Science. The university also engages in the provision and conduct of research, consultation, management and leadership training, and other related educational services at its Sungai Long and Kampar campuses in Malaysia. For more information, please visit

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