Recycling Startup That Buys & Collects Trash In Malaysia
Author’s text: Back in elementary school, we had a recycling program where students were encouraged to bring old newspapers from home and stack them in meter towers. It was a fun way to educate us kids on the values of recycling.
Trash4Cash has one hope: that one day there will be no more waste on Earth. But the reality is that recycling rates in Malaysia are still very low, and the company’s managing director, Redza, knows it.
That’s why he tries to make recycling easier and more accessible through the Trash4Cash app and the Pinky Hub fleets. On request, the large pink trucks go door-to-door to collect recyclable materials from households and businesses. Some of their notable clients even include Petron HQ and MITI.
“We bring a scale to make it fun, our customers can try to guess its weight. At the same time, it strengthens the trust between us and the customers. As an added bonus, customers earn real money as an attribute that helps us save the environment, ”said Redza.
Customers are paid based on the weight of their recyclables at the current market price. Redza told Vulcan Post that the average income per house is RM18 for a minimum of 50kg of recyclable material.
An anchored way of life
Recyclable collection services are familiar concepts in the country. Who could forget the earworms that mattresses and old newspaper collection trucks played while driving around neighborhoods?
Seniors riding bicycles around town to pick up aluminum cans and glass bottles were also plentiful. More than inspired by them, Redza adores them and respects them himself as a garbage collector.
He has seen a significant decline in these services in recent times, growing nostalgic for a time when recycling was second nature to Malaysians.
Raised by a father who is also a waste collector, recycling and caring for the environment were rooted in Redza’s childhood.
Recalling, he said, “My siblings and I were brought up or you can say, ‘brainwashed’ to be environmentally friendly since we were kids. My father is very strict when it comes to nature and the environment, but very calm and gentle at the same time.
Redza grew up to be a supervisor at a waste management company. Part of his job was to track trash compactor trucks to ensure trash is properly disposed of. This was intended to alleviate complaints from residents if the waste is disposed of recklessly.
After the trash was transported from the trash cans to the truck, he noticed workers were sorting it out for plastic bottles or cans, which was a lot. The workers recycled them every day and earned additional income themselves.
“But not for long,” Redza told Vulcan Post. “Source sorting was banned by the authorities because it took time.”
“I can’t blame them, because as a supervisor, I admit that it slows down operational work. Even though I love what workers do, there isn’t much I can do right now.
This was the tipping point that led him to start Trash4Cash. He wanted to find a way where the waste could easily be collected to be recycled and reused to make new materials.
Monetize after giving money
Since the launch of Trash4Cash in March 2018, Redza has reported that public awareness is quite decent through word of mouth.
“We collect from 5 to 20 houses per day depending on the capacity of the truck, and this for a recycling truck. The average collection per week for 1 truck is around 60 homes, ”he said.
Customers are paid through the Trash4Cash app, where they have a clear view of what they have earned from the recycling service. They can also use the app to request collections and check prices for each item.
But operating a fleet of heavy vehicles does not come cheap. Customers absorb 0 fees because Trash4Cash is a free service for them. What’s more, customers are even paid for their recyclables, meaning that all demanding expenses are the sole responsibility of the company.
Redza also explained that each fleet (Pinky Hub) has 15 workers including waste collectors and administrative staff. Adding up the gasoline costs, the average operational expense per month for a single Pinky Hub is RM60,000.
“We started to overcome costs by researching manufacturers who use recyclable waste as raw materials for production,” he said when asked about the company’s funding. “We are learning to sort and package and adapt to their demand for recyclable raw materials.”
Thus, in addition to collecting recyclable materials every two days, Trash4Cash is also a supplier of materials for industries that need recyclable materials for their production.
The fleets are currently operational in Klang Valley, Kedah and Perlis. Items collected range from plastics, old newspapers and clothing to construction and demolition debris, green (composting) and food waste.
“We’re doing our best to turn so much trash into something that has value and fits our vision, Trash is Treasure. We want to put every waste in its place in order to increase the lifespan of recyclable materials, ”concluded Redza with a little luck.
Conclusion: It is more important than ever that households recycle their plastic waste appropriately, due to the increase in plastic food packaging in our delivery orders. It might not turn Malaysia’s big waste problems overnight, but Trash4Cash and other eco-friendly startups are playing an important role in raising awareness first.
- You can read more about Trash4Cash here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: The Trash4Cash Team
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