Guest Blog: ISWA Beacon Conference in Langkawi, Malaysia

Oct 15, 2022 | ISWA blog, ISWA news, Working Groups

Alan Encinas

Alan Encinas

Technical Programme Manager ISWA

In a lush and quiet island in Malaysia, where time seems to run slower and life vibrates in a harmonious compass, the Waste Management Association of Malaysia organised an ISWA Beacon Conference, with Circular Economy as the theme. There, in Langkawi, people from all over Malaysia and some international guests as well gathered to discuss the perspectives, opportunities, and challenges for the journey to circularity in Malaysia and to learn a bit about what is going on around the world.

After a quiet reception and good night of rest, the next morning the event was running. All participants gathered every morning after a generous and varied breakfast that resemble more as a full-on midday buffet that your typical western “continental” option. Maybe something we westerners can learn and improve on.

Exhibitors were introducing their ideas approaches for servicing waste management. I could only be amazed by the creativity of some schemes such as some business models centred on the inclusiveness of the informal sector.



The presentations and discussions resonated in the group of stakeholders. They seemed to be attentive and engaged, it felt like it was the place to be for getting the insights and inspiration to move forward the ambitious aspiration of Malays moving forward with circularity and circular economy. Some challenges, barriers and gaps were highlighted but the momentum and willingness to start the transition was there.

I personally had the I had the opportunity to moderate a session on “Global Perspective on Circular Economy”. In this session, we focused on discussing the concepts of circularity, circular economy and their differences, the importance of having clarity and reliable indicators, the value of circular economy for progressing the journey towards the UN #sdgs2030, and the contributions of the waste sector globally in this pursuit. We also touched on the interlinkages of circular economy with the triple planetary crisis of climate disruption, nature and biodiversity loss and pollution and waste. Finally, we talked about practical actions companies, governments and individuals can take and following a natural step approach.


As we went into the discussion, we commented that the current economic environment and crises have major implications and potentially can setback us in the journey. Nonetheless, the panel agreed on the value of sound policies that can drive or enable circular business cases or models is of great value when properly enforced.


The full days of work and engaged discussions could only celebrated with some delicious Malay food. The combination of local fresh seafood, vegetables, sauces, gravies, and fresh juices was something special. A bit spicy for some sensible paladars but luckily, I am originally from chili motherland – Mexico so I was stubbornly putting too much sauce on everything and paying the sweaty price. My ISWA companions Marc – Managing Director and Bjorn – Chair of the Scientific and Technical Committee also did not seem to be shy of spiciness, “not bad for Europeans” some of the locals said.

We also had a Gala Dinner in between with some interesting and cheerful local performances. Us, the guests, were invited to be directly engaged in the show following a traditional choreography for the laughs and delight of the Malay visitors. I will not include pictures or video of this event, but you will have to believe me when I say Michael Jackson did not had better dancers.

I will conclude this blog with a special thanks from WMAM to all attendees. I personally also thank WMAM for the opportunity and for pushing ISWA’s mission.

Thank you for participating at the ISWA Beacon Conference 2022 in Langkawi!


Its the first physical conference after two years of travel restrictions! We were joined by about 170 visitors, from local as well as other countries, 6 exhibitors & sponsors, and an entire community of inspiring, enthusiastic waste professionals with total of 5 sessions, 18 speakers. ISWA BEACON is a conference for waste management experts and other related fields of professionals celebrating the return of in-person conference and networking gatherings in duty free island of Langkawi. WMAM are truly grateful to our supportive members and local agencies. A special thanks to our sponsors, exhibitors, attendees and ISWA for making conference a success.”


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