Our second COVID-19 webinar series with the theme: "Post Covid-19 Waste Management from Policy, Environment, and Technology Perspective" was held on September 2nd, 2020. For this webinar, there were three presenters that explained different materials. All of the presenters were invited from one of RDI's working groups-namely the COVID-19 Water and Waste Water Management Working Group.
The webinar and the presenters discussions were moderated by Dr. Akino Tahir. The first session of the presentation was presented by Dr. Aqil Azizi, a Lecturer and Researcher at Bakrie University. The second session of the presentation was presented by Prof. Suzana Yusuf, Director at Head of National Higher Institution Center of Excellence: Center for Biofuel and Biochemical Research (Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS). Following that, the third session was covered by Elizabeth Rinawati, M.Eng, the director of RDI.
Dr. Aqil Azizi elaborated that while the demand for fossil fuel has been increasing over the last several decades, with China and the USA as its main consumer, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a halt to the global increase in energy consumption. COVID-19 lockdowns have decreased the energy consumption on the sector of road transport and industry which resulted in global air pollution reduction. However, Dr. Ail Azizi highlighted further that those benefits of air pollution will be only temporary unless a series of long-term measures will be implemented. Following that, he explained that the COVID-19 pandemic is very related to the interaction between humans and wildlife, and while the near-future, said interaction should be done more carefully.
Prof. Suzana Yusuf briefly explained the classification of plastic wastes generated which ranges from Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) to PET before further discussing how technology plays a part in the mitigation of waste pollution in Malaysia. She was elaborating on the process of thermochemical conversion on transforming waste into value-added products, to which the technology applied, evidently decreased the amount of waste disposed into landfill sites in Malaysia. Furthermore, Prof. Suzana Yusuf also shared her research study on thermochemical conversion of solid waste to syngas and bio-oil. In her last presentation, she pointed out the need for an automated technology for waste management in the post-COVID-19.
As for the QnA session Dr. Aqil answered question about whether COVID-19 mitigation should be done in every country and in conjunction with climate change mitigation. He explained that it's a good idea to do an assessment of waste management for every country and that information will be important to mitigate the impact of both COVID-19 and climate change due to the inseparable relationship between both. As for in Malaysia, it had been elaborated by Prof. Suzana, the most important step that has to be done is to introduce a campaign and awareness program to the society to instill norms and consciousness for the people. She also explained the potential of incinerator technology that is currently advancing. Mrs. Elisabeth highlighted that recycling and the involvement of the local community is as important as waste-to-energy technology to manage waste. A particular study case in the city of Bandung, Indonesia was also discussed upon by Mrs. Elisabeth where waste management is heavily dominated by the private sector due to its various technical and policy setbacks.
The webinar highlighted that although the COVID-19 pandemic brings major disruption to all sectors of life, the sector of waste management included, it also shows that a major policy change and innovative technology implementation can still be implemented. One of the important aspects of the webinar besides its informational value, it also served as a medium of cross-countries collaborative research development between Indonesia and Malaysia. As the COVID-19 happenings and its disruptions are still currently in an observational state, conducting a cross-country webinar may be proven beneficial for a more comprehensive understanding regarding the sector of waste management, its policies, and also challenges during and post-COVID-19. In the future, the webinar output will also be expectantly function as a substantive reference for the development of the research that RDI's COVID-19 working group is conducting.
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