From waste to wealth

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

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

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