Raising The Next Generation of Circular Economy Champions

Malaysians are gradually making progress towards a circular economy and sustainable practices. Public awareness of the importance of reducing single-use plastic consumption and its environmental impact is growing.

Yet, knowledge about proper waste segregation, especially when it comes to the different types of plastics, confusion over what can be recycled, and the post-collection processes remains vague among many.

raising the next generation of circular economy champions

Driven by the mission to cultivate lifelong, proactive recycling habits among children, SK Bandar Utama Damansara 4 recently concluded the Trash Right program. This initiative, led by Mondelēz International in partnership with Lotus’s, PINTAR Foundation, and Trash4Cash, aimed to raise awareness about proper recyclable waste management and encourage responsible disposal within the community.

Over the span of three months, 910 SK Bandar Utama Damansara 4 students collectively amassed a total of 1.33 metric tons of plastic waste, exceeding the initial collection target of 1 metric ton. In addition to the collection drive, Mondelēz International and Trash4Cash also jointly conducted a workshop to educate students, teachers, and parents on effective waste segregation practices. These included fundamental knowledge about identifying different types of recyclable plastics, necessary steps to ensure plastics are properly washed and dried prior to recycling, as well as practical tips to make recycling a long-term habit in their everyday lives.

Headmaster of SK Bandar Utama Damansara 4, Encik Yahya Abdul Karim said: “Our students showed great enthusiasm towards the program through their active participation – which clearly shows in the substantial amount of recyclables collected. Some even went out of their way to promote proper waste segregation among their family members, while teachers also spoke with parents on the importance of proper waste management.

We’re incredibly proud of their genuine response in embracing recycling and environmental responsibility, especially after learning that their concerted efforts can make a real impact on society.”

In order to rally students’ participation in the Trash Right program, SK Bandar Utama Damansara 4 introduced a progress tracking leaderboard motivating students to actively recycle their scraps. Mondelēz International also further incentivized top class achievers of this program.

“The Trash Right program exemplifies Mondelēz International’s commitment to implement our Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which is in line with our mission of ensuring that our snacks and everything we do is not only right for people, but also right for the planet,” said Raja Zalina Raja Safran, Head of Corporate and Government Affairs for Malaysia and Singapore, Mondelēz International. “We hope that the invaluable recycling knowledge and skills can become an integral part of the students' lives and extend well beyond the duration of this campaign. These small, yet meaningful actions have the potential to create a lasting impact and evolve into a self-sustaining model that can be replicated in schools nationwide.”

Dedicated employees of Mondelēz International volunteered their time and actively engaged with the students bi-weekly throughout the plastic waste collection process. Their hands-on involvement allowed meaningful interactions with students beyond collecting recyclables, fostering a shared responsibility for creating a circular economy for plastic that would otherwise go to landfills.

The Trash Right program is part of Mondelēz International’s social impact project in Southeast Asia, which also stemmed from its recent partnership with Trash4Cash to address multi-layer plastic waste that is difficult to recycle in a short timeframe mechanically. Nevertheless, appropriately managed plastic waste gathered by the school would facilitate the transformation of Trash4Cash into reusable eco-boards, suitable for various applications and furnishings.

To culminate the collaboration with SK Bandar Utama Damansara 4, Mondelēz International plans to install a permanent recycling bin made from recycled plastics within the school compound to enhance the convenience of recycling for students and teachers. The specifics of the plan and implementation timeline will be collaboratively finalized between the school and Mondelēz International when the 2024 school term starts.