Out to reduce fabric waste at landfills


Tengku Zatashah and Lord launching the Fabric Recycling Initiative at the Sime Darby Plantation headquarters in Ara Damansara.

Tengku Zatashah and Lord launching the Fabric Recycling Initiative at the Sime Darby Plantation headquarters in Ara Damansara.

WE ALL know how to recycle and re-purpose waste such as plastic, paper and cans, but what about fabric from unwanted clothing and soft toys?

They often end up in landfills, where textile waste contributes to about 4% of total waste generated in the country.

To reduce fabric waste in landfills, Sime Darby Plantation and Kloth Cares has launched its Fabric Recycling Initiative at the Sime Darby headquarters in Ara Damansara.

“This is part of our bigger waste recycling plan for Sime Darby Plantation to reduce the number of landfills in our operations through waste segregation.

“Due to such recycling initiatives, we have successfully reduced our 157 landfills by 37% and we hope to reduce it by 50% in 2021 and 70% by 2023,” said Sime Darby Plantation chief sustainable officer Dr Simon Lord before launching the fabric recycling programme.

Present at the launch was Selangor Princess Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah who is a strong advocate for recycling and green initiatives.

Lord said in Malaysia, about 2,000 tonnes of textile waste was produced daily.

(Left and far left)Guests at the launch of the Fabric Recycling Initiative checking out the recycled items re-purposed from unwanted textile waste on display at the event.
Guests at the launch of the Fabric Recycling Initiative checking out the recycled items re-purposed from unwanted textile waste on display at the event.

He said the initiative would start at Sime Darby Plantation before any expansion.

“I want to drive change within the company first, before spreading across the country,” he said.

For now, there are two 1.82metre-high fabric recycling bins within their office premises, where old clothes, toys, bags and other fabric items are accepted.

Once the bins are full, Kloth Cares will collect the contents and segregate them at its collection centres.

Items in good condition will be sent to charitable organisations locally and abroad while others that cannot be used will be made into cleaning cloths or fabric pallets for Sime Darby Plantation to fuel their boilers.

“This recycling initiative has been around since 2016 when we first launched our War on Waste programme that also revolved around tackling waste,” he said.

Guests of the Fabric Recycling Initiative launch at the Sime Darby Plantation headquarters in Ara Damansara checking out the recycled items re-purposed from unwanted textile waste.

In September, the company will launch a Zero Plastic initiative.

Tengku Zatashah said, “The importance of embracing reduce, reuse and recycle is a lifestyle choice which we should all be doing in some way or other, so it is wonderful for large corporations to undertake such initiatives,” she said, adding that it was crucial for individuals to adopt this too.

Tengku Zatashah, who also has her #sayno2plastic campaign, said Malaysia had a “throw-away culture” where things were just thrown away once they were no longer wanted or needed.

She said people could reduce waste in landfills by segregating and re-purposing things.

“Kloth Cares collects unwanted fabrics before they are thrown into landfills, and it has collected 10,000kg of old fabric and recycled them into cleaning cloths, pillows and even bedding items since 2017,” she said.

In her speech, she told the audience of her green habits, such as using recycled woven bags instead of plastic ones and metal straws.

“I bring my own bamboo cutlery instead of using plastic ones and I share my daily habits to help inspire others to join me in this movement,” she said.

Those who want to re-purpose unused fabric can drop it at nearby recycling bins for textile items or pass it to Kloth Cares.