With the Recycle And Reward programme, you can do just that. All you need to do is exchange your recyclable items for points, which you can accumulate and use to redeem â€śrewardsâ€ť later on. These rewards range from grand prizes such as the aforementioned PS3 and iPods to smaller items such as supermarket gift vouchers and rice cookers.
The process is ingeniously simple â€“ just sign up for the programme on the website (recycleandreward.my) and pay a RM10 fee. You will then receive a custom-made green rucksack into which you can throw your recyclables and, when it is full, it will be picked up from your home.
The contents of your sack will be checked and weighed, and you will be given points. The number of points you get depends on what the contents are â€“ whether it is paper, plastic, glass, aluminium cans, or even electrical items. You will get extra points if you have separated the waste; otherwise it would be considered a mixed bag of trash. For instance, each kilogramme of mixed recyclables in one bag will get you 0.6 points per kg; but if you sort them out, you can get 1.6 points per kg for paper, 15 points per kg of aluminium cans and so on.
According to sales and marketing manager Muhammad Iqbal Baharum, Recycle And Reward started out in November 2009 as a small endeavour to get their friends and family to recycle and was born out of Iqbalâ€™s observations on the lack of a recycling culture in Malaysia.
â€śI used to study in Britain where recycling is ingrained in people. It is second nature to them,â€ť he said. â€śWhen I came back, I started wondering why Malaysia doesnâ€™t have that kind of culture.
â€śI noticed that the recycling facilities are also not convenient. You have to haul everything into your car, take it to the recycling centre, and after all that work, you will only get a few sen or Ringgit. To many people, itâ€™s just not worth the hassle. That got us thinking â€¦ why donâ€™t we pick up the trash directly from peopleâ€™s homes instead?â€ť
Operating out of the back of his house in Bangi, Selangor, Iqbal and his friends started small, testing their â€śrecycle for rewardsâ€ť system with family and friends. They found that after a while, people started to change their attitudes and recycle more, because they were chasing certain rewards.
â€śFrom our experience with existing clients and when trying to recruit members, we found that more people are inclined to recycle for material rewards rather than to help the environment. Some people even start recycling only because they wanted to earn back the RM10 commitment fee they paid us,â€ť said Iqbal with a laugh.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t hard to convince people to join. Firstly, they were attracted by the rewards and secondly, these are things that they throw out every day, anyway. We are just taking the rubbish they throw away and converting it into cash, and holding it for them until they want to redeem it for a reward.â€ť
Since they started formal operations in January, Recycle And Rewardâ€™s membership has grown steadily, with over 360 members scattered all over the Klang Valley, over 40% of whom are actively recycling and accumulating points.
The company currently handles about four tonnes of trash a month, and has been forced to move out of Iqbalâ€™s backyard to a small shop lot in Seri Kembangan, Selangor, where they store and segregate the trash before it is collected by recyclers.
Recycle And Reward accepts all sorts of recyclables â€“ from the basic paper (which constitutes about 55% of the total collection), plastic, aluminium and glass, to electrical items and even small household batteries (which they sell to a dealer who exports them for recycling). The only things they donâ€™t accept currently are rubber items, furniture, organic waste and items with hazardous materials.
To Iqbal and his colleagues, trash is money, so nothing goes to waste here. Their containers for storing the trash are made from recycled plastic parts and they make full use of an item before sending it for recycling.
â€śRight now, we throw away only about 5% of what we collect. We will always try to find a way to recycle or reuse the item before throwing it away,â€ť said Iqbal, who concluded by saying the ultimate goal of Recycle And Reward is to educate people about the importance of recycling. â€śMalaysians still lack awareness about environmental issues, but we hope that with this programme we can at least get them to start recycling first, so that they are helping the environment, whether they realise it or not.â€ť
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To find out more, visit recycleandreward.my.