Volunteers in Malaysia work towards recycling plastic waste from beaches
TIOMAN (MALAYSIA) – Every weekend, a team of volunteers take to the coastline of the Malaysian resort of Tioman for collecting plastic trash.
The trash collected is being recycled into plastic pellets, which could be later used to make an array of products from auto parts, home appliances to furniture.
Sydney Steenland, the founder of the Sea Monkey Project, a non-governmental group actively taking part in recycling ocean waste, “Everything is wrapped in plastic these days so it’s incredibly hard.”
Steenland admits, “It’s never going to actually stop the situation if you don’t tell people to stop using the plastic first.”
Heng Hiap, based in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, is one of the companies working with environmentalists dedicated towards the collection and removal of plastic waste in the country’s waters.
“Marine pollution is becoming a problem and we decided to focus on ocean-bound plastic material,” said the company’s founder Seah Kian Hoe.
Conservation group WWF released a report earlier this year saying that Malaysia was the leading consumer of plastic packaging, out of six Asian countries, at around 16 kg (35 lb) per person each year.
It had looked at China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, estimated to be contributing about 60% of the eight million tonnes of plastic that makes it to the world’s oceans each year.
The pellets made by Heng Hiap are sold off to companies such as Kian, a furniture maker. Irene Lim, Kian’s furniture branding manager, in a showroom in Kuala Lumpur, said, “Every chair that comes out from the machine we know that this has recycled part of the trash that we have created in the first place.”