Making eco-bricks from rubbish

SMK Darul Ehsan students help make the eco bricks at the school’s nature club activity room. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star

CURBING plastic waste is a huge task when daily items come in packaging that are non-biodegradable. So, turning these into eco-bricks is SMK Darul Ehsan’s Nature Club’s answer for a better environment.

Club president Monicca Ajimulam, 17, started an inspirational campaign against rubbish, where students and teachers are taught to collect plastic waste from snack packets, plastic bags and wrappers used at home and stuff these into a 1.5l plastic drink bottle to make the eco-bricks.

Eco-bricks are plastic bottles packed tightly with clean and dry, non-biodegradable waste. These bottles can then be used as building materials to create insulated walls or outdoor furniture.

“With the growing awareness in Selangor on the ban of (free) plastic bags and its impact on the environment, our club adopted the project in January, where we taught students and teachers an innovative way to care for our planet,” she said.

Monicca added that most of the 2,500 students and 160 teachers of the school in Selayang Baru volunteered to make eco-bricks that will be arranged to resemble a giant Jalur Gemilang to celebrate Merdeka in August.

They will later be reused to make garden benches and a table at the school.

“Until now, our teachers and students have made 1,150 eco-bricks and our target is 12,000 eco-bricks before mid-July. It is a wonderful opportunity to mingle with other like-minded students who are troubled about plastic pollution.

“Students and teachers are working together to make a difference,” she said.

Form Four student Nurjanah Qatrunnada Iman Mohd Rozali, 16, became involved in the project after finding out how plastic discards dumped into drains will eventually be washed into the rivers and sea.

“Watching a documentary, I learned that marine life that mistake the non-biodegradable for food can suffer health complications or death.

“Fishermen catch the fish and sell them to consumers like us who end up eating the toxic fish. It is a vicious cycle of plastic poisoning,” she said.

Another student, Nurul Farah Hanim Mohd Ramli, 16, said being part of the eco-bricks project made her understand how much plastic was used at home in a week.

“I am motivated to use tiffin carriers to pack food,” she added.

Club teacher advisor Ayadurai Letchumanan said the eco-brick initiative was a simple, creative and fun project that helped raise students’ awareness of management of non-biodegradable rubbish.

“Plastic waste piles up through indiscriminate dumping despite the ban on free plastic bags.

“Under the ruling implemented in January 2017, consumers in Selangor can still pay 20sen for each plastic bag when buying groceries in shops. People must use reusable bags,” he said.

The Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association estimates that the average Malaysian uses 300 plastic bags a year.

“We are going to use the eco-bricks to construct garden furniture. It is more environmentally-friendly compared to conventional bricks,” said Ayadurai.

Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) Solid Waste Management Department, Planning and Technical officer Nur Amalina Yusin said the council has forged a partnership with the school in the eco-bricks project.

“MPS is inspired by the potential and possibilities to keep non-biodegradable plastic from polluting the environment. We need to curb the amount of plastic that is going into rivers and landfills,” said the trained civil engineer.

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