Author's blurb: Back in elementary school, we had a recycling program where students were asked to bring old newspapers from home and stack them in 1-meter towers. It was a fun way to educate us kids about the values of recycling.
Trash4Cash has one hope: that one day there will be no more waste on earth. However, the reality is that recycling rates in Malaysia are still very low and the company's CEO, Redza, is well aware of this.
That's why he's trying to make recycling easier and more accessible via the Trash4Cash app and Pinky Hub fleets. On request, the big pink trucks drive from door to door to collect recyclable materials from households and businesses alike. Their notable customers even include Petron's headquarters and MITI.
“We bring a scale to make it fun. Our customers can try to guess the weight. At the same time, it builds trust between us and the customer. As a bonus, customers earn real money as an attribute that helps us protect the environment, ”said Redza.
- The prices are based on market prices / Photo credit: Trash4Cash
Customers are paid based on the weight of their recyclables according to the current market price. Redza informed the Vulcan Post that the average earnings per house is 18 RM with at least 50 kg of recyclable materials.
A deeply rooted way of life
Recyclable collection services are well known concepts in the country. Who could forget the catchy tunes that played mattresses and old newspaper collection trucks as they drove through neighborhoods?
Seniors cycling around town to collect aluminum cans and glass bottles were also plentiful. Redza is more than inspired by them and actually worships and respects them as a garbage collector.
He's seen a marked decline in these services lately and got nostalgic at a time when recycling was a given for Malaysians.
Raised by a father who is also a garbage collector, recycling and environmental protection were anchored in Redza's childhood.
He remembered and said, “My siblings and I grew up, or you can say we have been brainwashed to be environmentally friendly since we were children. My father is very strict about nature and the environment, but at the same time very calm and gentle. "
The hard-working team behind it / Image Credit: Trash4Cash
Redza grew up as a manager in a waste disposal company. Part of his job was to keep track of trash compactors to make sure the waste was being disposed of properly. This served to alleviate complaints from local residents when the garbage is carelessly disposed of.
As soon as the garbage was moved from the bins to the truck, he noticed that the workers were sorting it out looking for plastic bottles or cans, which was plentiful. The workers recycled them every day and made an extra income.
"But not for long," Redza told the Vulcan Post. "Sorting at the source was banned by the authorities because it was time-consuming."
"I can't blame them because, as a manager, I admit that it slows down operational work. Although I love what the workers were doing, I can't do much myself at the moment."
That was the turning point at which he started Trash4Cash. He wanted to find a way how waste could easily be collected for recycling and reused to make new materials.
Monetization after giving away money
Since launching Trash4Cash in March 2018, Redza reported that public awareness is reasonably decent thanks to word of mouth.
“We collect 5 to 20 houses a day, depending on the truck's capacity, and that goes for a recycling truck. The weekly collection average for 1 truck is around 60 houses, ”he said.
Customers are paid through the Trash4Cash app, in which they have a clear idea of how much they have made from the recycling service. You can also use the app to request collections and check the prices of each item.
The app is currently only available in the Play Store and is in the test phase
However, running a fleet of heavy vehicles is not cheap. Customers assume 0 costs because Trash4Cash is a free service for them. In addition, customers are even paid for their recyclables – which means that all demanding expenses are borne exclusively by the company.
Redza also stated that each fleet (Pinky Hub) has 15 workers made up of garbage collectors and administrative staff. Together with the cost of gasoline, the average monthly operating cost for a single Pinky Hub is RM60,000.
"We have started to overcome costs by looking for manufacturers who use recyclable waste as raw material for production," he clarified when asked about the company's financing. "We learn how to sort, pack and adapt to the demand for recyclable raw materials."
Trash4Cash not only collects recyclable materials every other day, but is also a material feeder for industries that need recyclable materials for their production.
The fleets are currently in service in Klang Valley, Kedah and Perlis. Items collected range from plastic to old newspapers and clothing to construction and demolition waste, greenery (composting) and food waste.
“We're doing our best to turn so much waste into something that has value and fits our vision. Trash is Treasure. We want to put every waste back in its place to extend the lifespan of the recyclables, ”Redza concluded hopefully.
Bottom line: It is now more important than ever for households to properly recycle their plastic waste as the number of plastic food packaging from our delivery contracts grows. Malaysia's major waste problems may not be reversed overnight, but Trash4Cash and other green startups play an important role in first-time awareness.
- You can find out more about Trash4Cash here.
- For more information on other Malaysian startups we've covered here, click here.
Selected image source: The Trash4Cash team