Waste banks in schools
The success of the first Waste Recycle Bank project in Ban Nong Fab School, Map Ta Phut, Rayong province has encouraged Indorama, the world's leading manufacturer of integrated polyester chain, to expand the project to cover two more schools in Rayong next year.
Richard Jones, head of investor relations and corporate communications, recently said that as a manufacturer of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a raw material for manufacturing plastic drinking bottles, Indorama can support the recycling to reduce waste.
The recycle project was launched in Rayong where Indorama's manufacturing plants such as TPT Petrochemicals are located.
"This project is different from other Corporate Social Responsibility projects. We don't give them [students and teachers at Ban Nong Fab school] stuff, books, stationery or sports equipment, but we encourage the students to know how to generate revenue from waste. At the same time, we can save our environment. This way is more sustainable than just giving," he said.
Indorama has supported the school by inviting experts in waste recycling to educate the students and teachers on how to select and screen garbage. Meanwhile, teachers in the project have coordinated with recycling companies in the province to buy waste from the bank.
Boonpa Kaewdecha, a senior teacher at Ban Nong Fab School who handles the project, said Map Ta Phut was the country's petrochemical complex, where many workers come and live in the nearby communities. One problem of the industrial communities is waste, which is very difficult to get rid of if people in the communities do not realise this problem.
She said despite a lot of waste and garbage in Map Ta Phut's communities, the school is confident that this problem can be managed with the well-planned project. It foresaw that most of workers who move to work here are poor. Thus, if they can generate revenue from litter, they can increase their income while saving the environment. The project was born out of this idea.
To educate students about the first process of recycling - to select and separate waste - the sixth and fifth-grade students in the recycling club were asked to serve voluntarily on the project committee. Six students serve on the committee as managers for selecting and separating waste, waste weight measurement, and accounting. Boonpa helps the committees in checking the money in members' bank accounts and all the processes.
Boonpa said that all the students of Ban Nong Fab school, about 200, the teachers and residents of the nearby community can join the project by having their own waste bank accounts. Even manufacturing plants in the Map Ta Phut area can have bank accounts. There are currently 223 members and they can bring their waste to the bank every Wednesday from 1.30pm to 2.30pm and sell the litter collected by them to the bank. All members have already been educated on the waste-separation process as they have to screen garbage before they come to the bank.
The garbage accepted by the bank includes paper, plastic drinking bottles, and drinking cans. The purchasing price for each waste is different. Pieces of paper, for instance, get Bt2 per kilogram, general plastic garbage can be sold for Bt7 per kilogram, while PET drinking bottles fetch as high as Bt14 per kilogram.
Kantaporn Duenjam, a sixth-grade student who is the waste recycle bank manager, said the committee works together every Wednesday afternoon to purchase garbage from members and go through the deposit process. The money is not paid to the members directly, but is credited in their bank accounts. The members can withdraw the money whenever they want. Many students save the money to fund their high school education.
Meanwhile, private companies that have bank accounts here make deposits as scholarship for poor students at the school.
Kantaporn said that after one year of the bank's operation, all the waste totalling 11,118 kilograms could be sold for Bt40,012. All the money will be added to the members' savings.
"After we started running the waste recycle bank, the waste in our communities is obviously less than in the past. I and my friend have learnt that we can generate revenue from waste, while taking care of our environment," she said.