Effort to adopt zero waste lifestyle for schools paid off with more than 45,000KG of recyclable waste collected from 17 participating schools

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Klang Valley, 17 June 2020: What is the best way to nurture a civil society that understands the importance of resource management? It is to expose and implement zero waste practices at a young age. Entitled S.M.A.R.T Ranger Programme for Schools in Klang Valley, this two-year project commenced in 2018, involving 17 primary and secondary schools within the Klang Valley, has saved more than 45,000 kg of waste from ending up in rivers and landfills through recycling.

The project was funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation and implemented by the Global Environment Centre (GEC). The aim of the project was to promote the adoption of a zero waste lifestyle by increasing recycling practices in schools and eventually extending the practices to parents, local communities, school canteens and the public. The project also complement the on-going River of Life Public Outreach Programme Phase 5 (ROLPOP) by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Malaysia and implemented by GEC.

Using GEC’s environmental education programme on resource management entitled S.M.A.R.T (Start Managing All Resources Today) Ranger, the schools implemented the zero waste concept through the 4R2C Approach (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Composting and Closing the loop). For the “Closing the loop” approach, Cenviro’s Recycle for Life (RFL) programme is supporting the initiative whereby schools and students are rewarded with cash through a buyback system via smart card for their recycling activities. The buyback system allows the schools to collect the recyclables such as steel, paper, plastic, aluminium and electronic waste and to be purchased by the RFL based on their recyclable market prices.

Involving 17 primary and secondary schools within the Klang Valley, has saved more than 45,000 kg of waste from ending up in rivers and landfills through recycling

The highlight of the project was the Recycling Competition that ran for six months. Overall, the competition collected 8,500 kg of recyclable wastes from all participating schools. Sekolah Kebangsaan St Teresa Brickfields (M) came on top among the primary schools winning the prizes of RM 2,500 and a certificate. The school collected over 1,230 kg of recyclable waste on top of actively implementing zero waste initiatives including creating a school garden using waste materials. Meanwhile, Kingsley International School won amongst the participating secondary schools and won prizes of RM 2,500 and a certificate. The school collected over 930 kg of recyclable waste and actively initiated green practices including making cleaning bio-enzyme using food waste as well as establishing a green corner within the school compound. Sri Bestari Private School won Special Prize Award for the highest collection of plastic and aluminum wastes totaling to 240 kg.

Faizal Parish, Director of GEC said, “Malaysia is running out of landfills and has been depending too much on landfills. Without sustainable waste management, these landfills will fill up to the brink. Our recycling rate is low at merely 28% according to SW Corp and only 15% of the total waste is safely disposed, according to a report by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).  Therefore, it is crucial to change the ecosystem by focusing on the younger generation, to catch them young on resource management and pollution reduction, at the same time making it rewarding for students to conserve the environment. This is what the project has successfully done.”

Barry O’ Connell, Chief Executive Officer of the Coca-Cola Bottling Investments Group for Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei said, “Food and beverage packaging is an important part of our modern lives. That is why we have made our entire consumer packaging in Malaysia 100% recyclable, and we have announced our World Without Waste commitment – to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one the company sells by 2030. To realize this bold, ambitious goal, we have been working with various partners, local recyclers, universities and schools on programmes such as this S.M.A.R.T. Ranger Programme with GEC to educate and encourage more Malaysians to recycle more often. We would like to congratulate the winners of the S.M.A.R.T Ranger Programme’s Recycling Competition and we hope that the students continue to make recycling a part of their daily lives and practice more sustainable habits”.

Kogilan Bama Deva from Kingsley International School said, “The school and our students are delighted for the win. However, above all, the recycling competition is a great initiative to expose our students in green practices. As a participating school, we received training on best waste management practices and the zero waste concept through GEC’s S.M.A.R.T Ranger training. We are also introduced to the Recycle for Life (RFL) initiative, which is a recycling programme that collects recyclable waste in exchange for money via smart cards. These exposures have given us clear directions in pursuing green initiatives.”

Winners were selected based on the total collections of different categories of recyclable wastes, namely paper, plastic, steel, aluminum and electronic waste. Each category was scored differently and additional points were awarded to schools that have implemented the zero waste concepts such as gardening, upcycling, rainwater harvesting, composting, used cooking oil collection and more. RFL was responsible for collecting the monthly recyclable waste from each school.

The Coca Cola Foundation has funded the prizes for the secondary schools category while ROLPOP5 has supported the funding of prizes for the primary schools category. The list of winners is as below: