Company works to reduce the by-products of industrialisation


By Joy Lee

Important role: File image of an overflowing landfill in Penang. The work of companies like 3R Quest help to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills in Malaysia.

Companies are increasingly encouraged to adopt a sustainable approach in carrying out their businesses.

Policies are increasingly being created to promote and help businesses use their resources more efficiently to manage their environmental impacts.

Consequently, some companies have taken to implementing more green initiatives in their operations while others see opportunities in making green initiatives their business proposition.

And some, like 3R Quest Sdn Bhd, have made a solid business out of sustainability while maintaining a green operation.

3R Quest was established in 2001 by founder and managing director David Heah. Prior to setting up the company Heah had spent three decades working in the scheduled waste management industry.

Scheduled waste is essentially hazardous waste generated as a by-product of industry. Due to its dangerous nature, scheduled waste has to be handled, treated and disposed of properly.

Having worked in the industry for many years, Heah thought the time was ripe to use his experience to continue pushing the green agenda on his own terms.

 

Reuse: Some of the materials that have been treated can be returned to industries for reuse, which will help to reduce cost for the companies.
Reuse: Some of the materials that have been treated can be returned to industries for reuse, which will help to reduce cost for the companies.
 

“Heah wanted to start something of his own and he has always been very passionate about all things green. It is an innate interest, not just something he picked up.

“The waste management industry took some time to mature. By then, it had come quite a long way and things were in place. So the timing seemed right for him to start the business,” explained Brenda Heah, director of 3R Quest.

3R Quest provides advisory and waste management services for the collection and treatment of scheduled waste.

But Heah’s fervour for sustainability goes beyond just business.

He walks the talk by making green initiatives a part of the company’s culture with simple measures such as providing employees with food containers to stop the use of polystyrene and using recycled plastic boxes instead of plastic bags.

Additionally, its facility has various built-in green features to help make use of natural light and rainwater harvesting for its lighting and plumbing systems among other things.

“All this is additional cost for the company, but it is a conscious effort by our founder to make environmental awareness a natural habit that goes home with the employees. So it is ingrained in our staff and we encourage them to propose more green initiatives that can be cultivated in the company,” said Brenda.

It is small wonder then that 3R Quest took home the platinum award for Best Green Initiative for the second time at the Star Business Award (SOBA) last year. The company won in the same category in 2012.

3R Quest has many times been mistaken as a recycler, but Brenda describes the company as a service provider for recyclers.

“We assist and aid them in treating and disposing of scheduled waste,” she said.

 

Planning for growth: 3R Quest Sdn Bhd’s facility in Rembau, Negri Sembilan. The company is looking at plans to set up a new facility over the next few years to boost its capacity.
Planning for growth: 3R Quest Sdn Bhd’s facility in Rembau, Negri Sembilan. The company is looking at plans to set up a new facility over the next few years to boost its capacity.
 

The misconceptions about 3R Quest’s role is only one in the many challenges the company faces. One of the main obstacles for solution providers such as 3R Quest is the level of awareness among industries about the need to dispose of their waste in a responsible manner.

Although businesses are supposed to be environmentally friendly, not many companies are willing to spend additional resources to manage their waste, which puts a dampener on the growth of companies like 3R Quest.

But while challenges are numerous, the business holds potential in a developing country like Malaysia.

As the manufacturing sector continues to grow, so will the amount of industrial waste generated, providing waste management firms with expansion opportunities.

3R Quest is already looking into plans for a new multi-million ringgit facility to significantly boost its capacity.   at its one acre plant in Rembau, Negri Sembilan.

 

Promoting reuse: One of the industrial washing machines at 3R Quest’s facility used to clean materials contaminated with scheduled wastes.
Promoting reuse: One of the industrial washing machines at 3R Quest’s facility used to clean materials contaminated with scheduled wastes.
 

 

Operations and marketing manager Jerome Heah declined to reveal details about the new facility, saying only that the company is currently looking into various treatment and technological systems that can be implemented as well as licensing needs for the new plant.

The average cost to set up and run an operation of its size is estimated to range from RM1mil to RM5mil. Currently, the company operates at its one acre plant in Rembau, Negri Sembilan.

The scheduled waste management industry is a niche business, but Jerome says it could make do with more players.

“The industry is growing and I don’t believe we can handle it all. There are maybe over 300 companies in the market handling different types of scheduled waste.

“But in line with the government’s vision for growth, we definitely need more waste management companies,” he said.

The company also hopes to expand the types of waste that it can handle. It currently handles 77 types of waste which covers materials such as empty containers, rags, gloves, plastic, filters and paper contaminated with scheduled waste.

3R Quest also regularly reaches out to communities, particularly school children, to educate them about the importance of going green through its CSR initiatives.

The company regularly dispenses green tips and invites interns to join the team to spread its green message.

“We want to see green initiatives at the forefront instead of being an afterthought. And we hope our efforts and passion go a long way in setting the standard in the industry.

“SOBA has been a good platform for SMEs like us to gain recognition for such efforts and we want to encourage and inspire more SMEs to participate and to be benchmarked by the industry. It can be done and no company is too small to win,” Brenda said.

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