SMK Assunta in Petaling Jaya now has an Automated Recycling Centre (ARC) incorporating a RM45,000 machine to drive home the recycling message and teach users how to do it the proper way.
“This is a very good way to teach students about the environment and the importance of recycling in an interesting and practical manner,” said English teacher Vasuki Subramanyam who is also head of the recycling programme.
She added that students would not only put things into the bin but learn about the recycling process.
For example, when recycling a plastic bottle, students must first remove the bottle cap, crush the bottle and then put the cap back on.
“If they do not follow the procedure, the recycling machine will not accept it,” she said.
To make things more interesting, every student will get to access the machine via their own account and gain points for every item recycled.
Currently, the machine only accepts aluminium cans, plastic bottles and newspapers.
The students have already collected over 300kg of newspaper, three large bags of flattened aluminium cans and five bags of compressed plastic bottles in three weeks.
“Most students are not only bringing recyclables from home but also going around night markets to collect them.
“I know of some who also go to hawker centres and even to Batu Caves during Thaipusam,” said student Anu Vaisanavy.
She added that ARC has made recycling a fun activity.
“Students are at the machine before and after school every day and even during recess,” said another student Katherina Asha Raj.
There are always two people on duty at the recycling machine to monitor its use and teach others how to operate it.
Almost all the 1,600 students in SMK Assunta are participating in the programme. The ARC was set up under the WWF-Eco Schools programme which is part of the International Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) based in Denmark.
Under the FEE programme, eco-schools in various countries connect with each other to exchange experiences and ideas.
Eco-Club president Kirti Milani said they want to spread the recycling message outside the school.
“We have also distributed flyers about recycling in public areas like food courts,” she said.
They are also looking into conducting a special after school art class to teach recyclable art.
Recycling bins have been placed everywhere around the school.
WWF Eco-School’s appointed trainer Chew Pong Sin said training is conducted to teach users how to use the machine.
Quiz questions and random facts about the environment and recycling are also displayed on the monitor of the machine.
“Students can covert their points to redeem things like gift vouchers,” he said.
They also plan to sell recyclable art made by single mothers with the proceeds going to the mothers.
The Taman Gasing Indah Rukun Tetangga helped to sponsor the cost of installing the machine.
“We used our prize money for taking part in Rukun Tetangga activities and projects, to help pay for the ARC as the school is in our neighbourhood,” said Rukun Tetangga chairman Eric Chew.