From waste to wealth
I HAVE often thought about bringing my own lunch box when buying food. But the hassle of having to wash it after use has me putting it off. It is more convenient to use a plastic container and dispose of it after use.
I read news reports of plastic mountains and the endangered animals and fish, which I am guilty of putting at risk, but why have I not done anything about it? It comes down to attitude.
We can either stop using plastic – at the very least, reduce it – or think of how to manage the waste.
We can either follow the steps taken by France in banning the use of plastic plates, cups and utensils (except for compostable and biosourced materials) come 2020 or we can be innovative by turning waste into wealth. The latter is what I am interested in talking about.
In 2010, visionary Oscar Mendez gave birth to Conceptos Plásticos, an industrial organisation based in Colombia, which has changed the idea of what we have of a house.
Through extrusion, tonnes of plastic waste were crushed, mixed, melted and moulded to make building blocks that make a house that could last for as long as 500 years – the amount of time taken by plastic to break down into smaller particles. For one thing, plastic does not biodegrade.
The plastic house comes with incredible features. Without needing to use adhesive, its building blocks can be stacked like Lego. And it takes only four people with no experience in construction to build the house in five days.
The 40 sq m house has two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, kitchen and dining room. It is priced at US$5,200 (approximately RM21,935) which is cheaper than the price of a conventional house.
The earthquake- and fire-resistant house is also adaptable to any terrain and climate. It has been done in Colombia thus it can be also done in Malaysia. I believe that we can import this green technology here.
Perchance, the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry can work in tandem with the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry in realising this project in Malaysia.
According to the recently presented Budget 2017, RM200 million is allocated to Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad to build 5,000 units of People’s Friendly Home (PMR) with a government subsidy amounting to RM20,000 for each unit.
Instead of bricks and mortar, why don’t we resort to building houses out of plastics? It saves not only time and energy but also cost.
As for the technology of the plastic house itself, perhaps, the Higher Education Ministry can introduce this technology to students in technical and vocational education and training institutions so that they can obtain the skills and expertise needed to implement this technology.
By now, I do not think that this idea is far-fetched. Looking at how successful the project has become in Colombia, I believe that we can do the same at home by learning from them.
In fact, sustainable development is a global concern. The plastic house, which aims to reduce plastic waste and poverty, is a sustainable project as it tackles a few crying issues such as poverty and climate change. As I mentioned in the beginning, it is a matter of attitude.
I can choose to bring my own lunch box tomorrow when buying food rather than just thinking about doing it. I can only do so if I stop thinking that it is a hassle; I can only do so if I believe that it is for the benefit of myself and my generation and the generations after.
Where young views rule