In its aspiration to become a sustainable retailer, Lotuss Stores (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Lotus’s Malaysia) is continuing its efforts to source for alternatives to reduce single-use plastics in its operations, whilst finding ways to engage and create interest amongst Malaysian youth to be more involved in circularity. This is the start of the public private partnership between the retailer and a leading technical university, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) that led to the creation of its first National Sustainability Innovation Challenge 2023 (NaSIC’23).
The objective of NaSIC’23 is to encourage creative, innovative, thinkers and problem solvers who are interested in environmental issues by providing them with exposure to green technology, engineering, science solutions and real industry cases relating to reducing, reusing, recycling and replacing single-use plastics in retail.
Corporate Services Executive Director of Lotus’s Malaysia, Azliza Azmel said, “This is our first collaboration with MJIIT-UTM to gather brilliant school going Malaysians to explore and express their innovative ideas; to address real challenges in the retail industry, with potential to become workable solutions fit not only for Lotus’s but for other retailers in Malaysia. We hope that with NaSIC’23, this will in many ways help to integrate sustainability into all aspects of education in Malaysia and empower Malaysian youth to create a sustainable future”.
Launched in April 2023, NaSIC’23 had successfully garnered participation from 390 students aged 14 to 18, representing 77 schools from West and East Malaysia. At the finals in Lotus’s Selayang today, 21 students from seven teams had showcased their brilliant ideas to a panel of judges from both Lotus’s and MJIIT-UTM. Judges present were Sushmita Paul, Chief Operating Officer of Lotus’s Malaysia, Azliza Azmel, Corporate Services Executive Director of Lotus’s Malaysia, Professor Dr. Masafumi Goto, Deputy Dean of Liaison and Internationalisation, MJIIT-UTM Kuala Lumpur and Associate Professor Dr. Roshafima Rasit Ali, Postgraduate Academic manager of MJIIT-UTM Kuala Lumpur.
The best idea will be further developed by MJIIT-UTM to benefit Lotus’s and potentially the retail industry in Malaysia. At the award ceremony, the top three teams were awarded with cash vouchers worth RM1200, RM900 and RM600 respectively. The winning teams for NaSIC’23 are:
Also present at the closing and award ceremony was Professor Technologist Dr. Abdul Latif Bin Saleh, Pro-Vice Chancellor, UTM Kuala Lumpur Campus and Professor Technologist Dr. Ali Bin Selamat, Dean, MJIIT-UTM.
“Sustainable development is a collaborative effort. We can see how Malaysia is working towards phasing out single-use plastic bags. Most retailers have started to stop providing single-use plastic bags to shoppers and Lotus’s Malaysia is one of them. Many companies work hard to phase out the use of single-use plastic by introducing stainless steel bottles and straws or reusable bags. UTM as the leading technical university in Malaysia, we are committed toward the innovation in producing new types of bioplastics, biodegradable plastics and sustainable materials for replacing the conventional plastics, as well as new technologies for processing used plastics to reduce its environmental impacts, said Professor Technologist Dr. Abdul Latif Bin Saleh, Pro-Vice Chancellor, UTM Kuala Lumpur Campus.
Other finalists for NaSIC’23 include:
- Team Eco-lution – Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Putrajaya
- Team ReWale – Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) Langkawi
- Team Masterminds – Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Bandar Seri Putra
- Team Mission Impossible – SMK Bandar Putra
At the event, Azliza also shared that its ESG commitment is guided by its Three Benefit Principle, where its sustainability efforts should not only benefit the company but also the society and the country in which it operates in. In July 2021, the retailer took the initiative to stop the provisions of single-use plastic bags from its checkout counters which successfully prevented around 26 million single-use plastic bags from going into landfills and oceans.
Further to this, Lotus’s had also introduced its food waste composting trial efforts from one of its stores in 2022. This has resulted in 16% of its food waste successfully diverted from landfills. Other initiatives in circularity also include the use of sustainable materials in the packaging of its Lotus’s Own Brand products. To date 68% of its own brand packaging is fully recyclable.
Both Lotus’s and MJIIT-UTM has plans to continue its partnership for NaSIC’24, to address other areas of sustainability that will benefit the environment, consumers and students.