Sustainable Development Goals


UCL student selected as UN Young Leader for the SDGs

After founding a company to address the dumping of glass bottles in landfill in New Delhi, a UCL student became one of the UN’s 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals.

an image of glass bottles

16 August 2021

“Growing up in New Delhi, India, I noticed that glass was not being segregated, despite being recyclable and reusable,” says Udit Singhal (Management Science student 1) 1. “Instead, it was being dumped into already scarce landfill space, where it won’t decompose for a million years.”

Then a 16-year-old student at The British School, New Delhi, Udit discovered that collecting glass bottles for recycling was no longer viable for the city’s army of informal waste collectors (kabadis) because demand was dropping, they needed large storage spaces and transport costs were high.

It was this realisation that motivated Udit to found Glass2Sand, a company that prevents glass bottles being sent to landfill by crushing them into commercially valuable silica sand.

“I want to drive awareness, galvanise young people around the world and emphasise the need to act.”

Udit was selected from more than 8,000 applications to become one of the UN’s 17 Young Leaders for the SDGs, 2020–2022, in recognition of his work towards achieving SDG 11.6 (By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management). Convened by the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, the Young Leaders are chosen for their leadership and contribution to creating a more sustainable world.

As a community, they support efforts to engage young people in achieving the SDGs, both through strategic opportunities with the UN and their existing initiatives, platforms and networks.

“I was keen to leverage the expertise of the UN to effectively drive my sustainability mission forward,” Udit explains. “I wanted to turn attention to the growing menace of glass waste and make #noglasstolandfills a movement.”

Alongside continuing to tackle glass waste during his two-year appointment as a Young Leader, Udit has spoken to groups of school and university students and young professionals in India, the UK, mainland Europe and Canada..

“I want to drive awareness, galvanise young people around the world and emphasise the need to act,” says Udit. “I also want to use my time and experiences at the UN to help UCL and its student body embrace sustainability and become actively involved in achieving the SDGs.”