THE next time you buy made in China or Vietnam clothes, undergarments or socks using synthetic fabric, chances are the raw materials used to make them are from Seberang Prai, Penang.
Seberang Prai Municipal Council Local Agenda 21 (LA21) Committee co-ordinator Chew Eng Seng said a recycling plant in Juru, Bukit Mertajam, was a major supplier of the raw material called Polyethylene Terephtha-late (PET).
He said PET, which is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family, was commonly used to make artificial cotton or fiber which were essential ingredients to produce synthetic fabric.
Export-bound: Workers gathering the transparent crystal-like plastic flakes to be packed in plastic sacks and exported to manufacturers in China and Vietnam.
And, what’s interesting is that PET is mainly obtained from recycled soft drink and mineral water plastic bottles, he said during a visit to the plant, ESH Resource Management Sdn Bhd, on Monday.
Chew said the plant produced about 200 metric tonnes of PET plastic flakes per month, which were mainly exported to China and Vietnam.
He said the company was involved in the basic recycling process of collecting the plastic bottles from various suppliers and agents throughout Penang and from other states.
“About 100 workers will manually sort out the bottles, separating the transparent ones from the coloured ones, before dropping them into machines to be crushed.
“The crushed bottles would then be washed in water and dried using a circulatory blower that would also help remove the labels.
“Next, the bottles are placed into a shredder, which will also separate the shredded bottle caps from the transparent bottles,” he added.
Alternative use: A worker at the plant separating plain paper from the coloured ones before sending them to be compacted into bales for sale and reuse.
Chew said the translucent crystal-like flakes, would then be packed in plastic sacks and exported, mainly to manufacturers of artificial cotton.
Municipal councillor Oon Neow Aun said households and commercial companies should refrain from throwing away their recyclable wastes into the garbage bins.
“They should learn to separate their wastes and sell the recyclable ones to recycling plants.”
Growing business: EHS Resource general manager (marketing and business development) Alice Lim Ai Hun (left) showing the bales of compacted plastic bottles to (from right) councillors Soon and Oon at the recycling plant in Juru, Bukit Mertajam.
Apart from plastic bottles, he said, the plant also bought old newspapers, pamphlets, corrugated cartons, plastic kitchenware, plastic bags and bottles.
He added that the plastics could fetch between 50 sen and 80 sen per kg, while paper and glass bottles could fetch between 18 sen and 22 sen per kg as well as 2 sen per kg, respectively.
ESH Resource managing director Lesley Lim Yu Chin said the 23-year-old company, which has two plants in Juru and Batu Maung, received about 100 metric tonnes of recyclable items per day.
“We sell about 5,000 metric tonnes of compacted paper and plastics in bales as well as plastic flakes every month.”
Soon Lip Chee. also a councillor, said the council would pick 10 schools in Seberang Prai for a pilot recycling programme in schools whereby pupils would be given incentives for donating recyclable items.
“Several appointed teachers in the schools would weigh the items and jot down the value per kg in the pupils’ special recycling passbook.
“The pupils would then be allowed to use the amount collected in their passbook to buy stationery items from their school bookshop,” he said, adding that SJK (C) Kwong Wah in Raja Uda had started the programme.