Discovering New Modes of Recycling

Having met the business owner of a polystyrene and cooking oil recycling factory at an environmental-themed event, Tzu Chi volunteers visited the factory in the hope of gaining some valuable knowledge that will help them in the promotion of waste reduction.

According to statistics revealed by a manager of SWM Environment Sdn Bhd at a press conference in May 2019, the Sungai Udang landfill in Malacca is expected to reach its full capacity by the end of this year, with the state’s collection of 25,000 to 27,000 tonnes of disposals per month.

In fact, Tzu Chi volunteers had visited the said landfill twice and were shocked by what they saw during their visits, especially that in December 2018. In order to raise public awareness on the pressing issue, they have been sparing no efforts to advocate the movement of waste reduction and recycling.

In recent years, Tzu Chi volunteers have been actively promoting environmental protection concepts in the hope that more people will understand the environmental crisis and conserve Earth’s resources. Pictured here is an environmental-themed talk held at a residential area. [Photograph by Yew Kwong Chai]

A pleasant discovery

This year, Tzu Chi was once again invited to hold an exhibition to raise environmental awareness at the annual ESH Week 2019, organized by Texas Instruments from June 27 to 28.

While on duty at the event, volunteer Tan Lian Hee, who retired from the company 4.5 years ago, had the chance to talk to some senior executives from Tan Wee Choon Sdn Bhd (TWC). At the mention of polystyrene issue, Lian Hee was pleased to discover that TWC has begun to collect polystyrene in recent years. He immediately invited volunteer Ng Kim Poh, a cadre member of the Environmental Protection Division, to have further conversations with the senior executives of TWC. With consent from the Managing Director, Tan Kim Hin, the volunteers then scheduled a visit to the company, to find out more about polystyrene and cooking oil recycling.

Tzu Chi volunteers were invited to hold an environmental-themed exhibition at Texas Instruments, to raise the employees’ environmental awareness. [Photograph by Tan Lian Hee]
Tan Kim Hin (far right) shares with volunteers some knowledge on polystyrene recycling. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Resolving the cooking oil recycling issue

On July 3, a group of 11 volunteers arrived at TWC for the visit. Led by Tan Kim Hin and his daughter, the volunteers visited the company’s subsidiary, ARUSV Greentech, to learn more about the recycling of kitchen waste and used cooking oil.

A staff, Chiew Leng Swee shared, “For 100 kg of used cooking oil, after processing, 30% can be made into soaps and dishwashing detergents, while the remaining 70% can be recycled into bio-diesel.” Thus, he hoped that the general public will keep used cooking oil for recycling instead of discarding or pouring it into the drains, as that will create more issues.

Kim Poh looks forward to collaborating with the company in this aspect, as many people have sent used cooking oil to Tzu Chi’s recycling centres despite the volunteers’ repeated indications that the recycling centres do not collect it.

Volunteers learnt about kitchen waste and used cooking oil recycling from Tan Kim Hin (in bright blue top). [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Reducing the burden on landfill

After finding out about used cooking oil recycling, the volunteers proceeded to the company’s polystyrene handling department.

The company uses machines to compress the polystyrene into blocks before sending them to the factory for further processing into photo frames and other items.

The volunteers were excited to see a huge amount of polystyrene that filled up a room being compressed into solid blocks within a short period of time. They tried to lift the blocks that appeared light in weight, but were, in fact, solid and heavy!

Over the years, the volunteers have been looking for polystyrene recyclers to handle the polystyrene products sent to Tzu Chi’s recycling centres, but to no avail. Now that they have found one, everyone was filled with great joy.

“Finally, there’s a solution to alleviate some burdens on the Sungai Udang landfill!” Volunteer Yew Kwong Chai breathed a sigh of relief.

He hoped that everyone can work together to reduce waste and make the planet a better place for all. “Let’s help each other. Tzu Chi is a charitable organization, and we look forward to such collaborations. It’s a way for us to repay society…,” replied Tan Kim Hin.

Kim Poh shared with fellow volunteers their visit and discoveries during the Environmental Protection Division meeting on July 6, and the proposal to promote the recycling of used polystyrene and cooking oil, and to collect them, was well-received by everyone. Hopefully, the proposal can be approved at the cadre members’ meeting and be implemented soon to reduce the amount of garbage sent to the landfill.

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