Carlsberg Malaysia, Sabah Recycling Association launch pilot glass bottle recycling initiative

KOTA KINABALU: Carlsberg Malaysia is working with Sabah Recycling Association (Ripple) to pilot-test a three-year glass bottle recycling and community empowerment programme named CarlsBot.

Committing towards its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda, the brewer has co-created a glass bottle ecosystem with Ripple to recycle its non-returnable glass bottles in the state capital by empowering local communities to tackle waste and generate income.

The CarlsBot programme will address the mounting issue of disposal, collection and recycling of glass bottles here through the initiative which will take place from the end of this year to 2025.

The programme’s namesake takes cue from its famous flagship brand Carlsberg – “Carls” while “Bot” refers to a “ro-bot” or machine that can crush glass “bot-tle”, hence the name “CarlsBot”.

The CarlsBot machine can crush approximately 600kg of glass bottles in an hour, which is equivalent to 2,352 pints of Carlsberg glass bottles.

For year one, three CarlsBot machines will be made available in Kota Kinabalu at the Tanjung Aru Marine Ecosystem Center (TAME) and two community centres in Luyang and Kingfisher here.

These made-in-Sabah CarlsBot machines can generate income for Sabahans whilst reducing glass waste in the beautiful Land Below the Wind.

The CarlsBot machine, brainchild of native Sabahan inventor Adrian Lasimbang of Friends of Village Development (Tonibung), was inspired by other glass bottles crushers in the market which he then improvised to provide a solution to the overflow of unrecycled glass bottles that end up in landfills.

With the crushed glass produced by CarlsBot in the forms of cullet, coarse sand and fine sand, Ripple provides the recycled material to local communities and trains them with entrepreneurial, innovation, marketing and sales skills to repurpose the glass bottle waste into material.

These materials can be used in various beneficial ways, for example, to pave roads or be upcycled into handicrafts, furniture and even big ideas like 3D printed housing and Kota Kinabalu shoreline sand retention, while also generating additional income for local entrepreneurs and preserving nature.

Speaking at the launch of Project CarlsBot on Nov 29 (Tuesday), Ripple chairperson Tressie Yap said they were delighted to work with Carlsberg Malaysia for the initiative.

“Because we believe very much that small actions lead to big changes, we are very proud and excited to collaborate with a reputable brewer who will provide us with the funding to operate, manage and monitor the CarlsBot programme,” she said.

She added their network of NGOs and social enterprises will also be involved including Tame, Tonibung, Siung Films, Upcycled Shack, Moyog Innovation House, Pacos Trust and One Ocean Empire on a local grassroots level.

“This will consequently have much larger impacts on the lives of the communities in Kota Kinabalu and the environment of Sabah,” she said.

Carlsberg Malaysia managing director Stefano Clini expressed gratitude for the dedication and partnership with like-minded NGOs.

“We are hopeful that with the support of Ripple, together with our distributors Kwong Hin (HK) Sdn Bhd and Bondestiny Sdn Bhd to handle the business-to-business glass bottle collection, Project CarlsBot will start on a strong footing to deliver a complete ecosystem.

“Upon the completion of this pilot programme, we hope that it will be in a solid position to deliver a positive impact to the ecology and economy of the communities in Kota Kinabalu and other parts of Borneo.

“Our target is to collect at least 30% of our products’ glass bottles in Kota Kinabalu,” he said.

Glass is one of the most difficult waste items to dispose of in Sabah and unlike plastic and organic waste, there has not been much effort to find ways to turn glass into products that could generate income.

Clini said despite the investment, partnership and commitment by all parties, it was no easy feat to drive mindset and behaviour change around glass bottle waste.

“We invite all of you who are passionate about the people, planet and prosperity of Sabah to pledge support for CarlsBot that is made by a Sabahan for Sabahans in Sabah.

“You can bring any bottle, not just Carlsberg bottles, to Tame as well as to Luyang and the Kingfisher community halls and make our target of zero glass bottle waste a success by crushing it one bottle at a time,” he said.

Carlsberg Malaysia recently launched its “Together towards ZERO and Beyond” ESG programme which includes a wider array of ESG priorities.

It focuses on achieving six ambitions, which are categorised into ZERO Carbon Footprint, ZERO Farming Footprint, ZERO Packaging Waste, ZERO Water Waste, ZERO Irresponsible Drinking and ZERO Accidents Culture.

These priorities support the brewer’s transformation towards more sustainable business practices and reaffirm its commitment to the collective action needed on the ESG areas that matter the most towards its purpose of “Brewing for a Better Today and Tomorrow”.

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