September 27, 2023, by Mei Kee Lee

Plastic World and Plastic Education Workshop

One summer holiday, I went to a beautiful island in Borneo with my family. I was looking forward to enjoying the white sandy beach and the clear blue sea. To my dismay, the beach on the island was littered with plastic rubbish. Looking at my kids cleaning up the beach (Figure 1), it left a big impact on me.

Figure 1. These young children collected four big bags of plastic rubbish from the beach and there were more rubbish to collect.


After finding inspiration with my colleagues (Prof Chris Gibbins and Dr Sivathass Bannir) from the School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, we initiated transdisciplinary research on microplastic. Our initial two students were funded by the Faculty Scholarship scheme (Kitty Chen and Ng Yong Sin) where they investigated the sources and loads of microplastic in the Langat River and its’ animals. The latter work on microplastic contamination of fish and invertebrates in Malaysian Rivers was additionally funded by The Habitat Foundation.

We initiated a research group on ‘novel environmental contaminants’ and won the inaugural Tricampus Research Team Award for most Supportive/Inclusive Research Environment 2022 (Figure 2). We have since recruited more postgraduate and undergraduate students and colleagues researching on this topic and organised regular mini seminars supported by the Faculty’s research group funding (Figure 3). We have also presented our research ideas to a few companies (including MedKlinn and Medicos) and two political representatives of Selangor state highlighting the concerns of microplastic contaminant. We received a grant by the Kurita Water and Environment Foundation (2023), awarded to Miss Chin Man Yee.

Figure 2 Research Team Award at the Tricampus Award in 2022. The Award ceremony was conducted online.


Figure 3 The third novel contaminants mini seminar series where postgraduate and undergraduate students presented their research plan for the year. This took place in December 2022. In May 2023, students shared their research findings.


When Malaysia is fully opened after the lock down following the Covid19 pandemic, I have reached out to more than 400 students in nine schools in Selangor, Sarawak and Sabah since May 2023 (Table 1; Figure 4), sharing with them our research findings on microplastic (Figure 5). The aim of the workshop is to create awareness of the impact of plastic contaminants on our environment and wildlife. Students are asked to think about plastic around them and how these plastics are part of our modern living. At the end of the workshop, we discuss how indiscriminate consumption of plastic especially single use plastic can adversely impact our world and what we can do to reduce our dependency on it.


Date State School Pax
25-May Selangor SJK(C) Batu 11 Cheras 40
27-Jun Selangor Sathya Sai Primary School 40
3-Aug Kuching SMK Pending 60
4-Aug SMK St Thomas 45
10-Aug Selangor SJK(T) Sendayan 40
18-Sep Kota Kinabalu SK Kionsom Inanam 62
18-Sep SJK(C) St James 40
19-Sep SM St John Tuaran 36
20-Sep Tshung Tsin Secondary 54
Total 417

Table 1 A list of schools where the plastic world workshop was delivered between May and September 2023. The age of these students are between 11 and 14 years old.


Figure 4 One of the ‘Plastic World’ education workshops in a rural school in Sabah.


Figure 5 A slide that summarized our research findings on microplastic concentration in the water, sediment and animals in the river.


Prepared by:

Ting Kang Nee

Head, School of Pharmacy



Novel contaminant research group

The Habitat Foundation

Cascade Nottingham

University of Nottingham Malaysia

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