Recycling for Earth and cash

Recycling for Earth and cash

A woman sorting different types of paper at a paper-packing factory in Taman Bukit Maluri Industrial Park. -Photos by Grace Chen 

THERE IS money to be made in recycling, but most people who do it are not motivated by ringgit and sen.Singer and actress Sasha Saidin for example declined to accept money from a recycling centre near Pandan Indah for 6kg of used cans, boxes and plastic bottles. She said it was not about the money. “It’s about saving the Earth for the future of our children,” said Sasha. Recycling was ingrained into the actress and singer by her mother. Sia found a way to generate cash for her foundation’s operations by collecting and selling trash. “We always used to separate rubbish at home. It has become part of our lifestyle,” said Sasha who recalled that one part of their home was reserved for storing recyclables like plastic bottles, milk boxes, cans and glass. The recycling habit was reinforced when she spent four years furthering her studies in Britain. There she discovered there were colour-coded garbage bins indicating where different types of waste should go. “I won’t throw rubbish away just like that. If I can’t find a proper bin, I’d hold on to it until I get home,” said Sasha, who even takes out staples from paper before putting them aside for recycling. Beautiful Gate Foundation founder Sia Siew Chin was one of the pioneers in realising there was money to be made out of items considered rubbish. She realised that volume was the key.


Sasha (right), her mum Aishah and son, Arya sending bags of recyclables they have collected to a recycling centre. 

“People throw away things for the most trivial reasons. They say, it’s out of fashion or they want to get rid of something that reminds them of an unhappy event. So, we collect them. Since we started in 1999, our recycling activities have created jobs for disabled members and helped sustain our operations,” said Sia.

She recalled that in one year, their recycling centre located in a house in SS2 Petaling Jaya, reported a gross profit of RM20,000 a month.

Altogether, they have seven branches including Kuala Lumpur, Klang and Malacca.

“Sorting is key in fetching higher prices.

“Book pages have to be torn, their paper separated into coloured and non-coloured. Plastic also has to be sorted. Water bottles should be segregated from detergent containers,” pointed out Sia.

With main recyclers like one paper packer which handles paper waste for publishers and printing companies in Taman Bukit Maluri Industrial Park, Kuala Lumpur, buying rates start at 20sen per kg. Black-and-white paper will bring in an extra 10sen. So, a stack of newspapers weighing 46kg will earn the recycler RM13.80.

Many entrepreneurs have jumped on the recycling bandwagon, realising there is good money to be made.


“Today, we can make about RM5,000 a month,” reported Sia. Competition is also keen. “Many charity organisations are beginning to see potential in rubbish. They are setting up
collection bins everywhere,” said Sia.

Their latest collection features bangles and necklaces made out of old magazine pages.

“We do not make much from sales,” said Wan, adding they attach more value to the new friends they have made along the way.

Copper – RM18 per kg

Stainless steel – RM4 per kg

Newspaper – 30sen per kg

Cardboard – 40sen per kg

Mix of plastic items (plastic bottles, containers, pails) – 80sen per kg

Old batteries – 2.50 per kg.


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