Toyota Eco Youth champions the environment for 20 years

The Royal Military College team’s project for Toyota Eco Youth is the Water Efficient Sea Intelligent Trash (We-Sea-It) tank that collects and separates microplastics by electrocoagulation to solve microplastics pollution in water sources.

Programme challenges students to come up with solutions to save the planet

GLOBAL warming and climate crisis are real.

As the situation intensifies over time, it is our children who will face the worst effects in the future.

But rather than being passive victims, the younger generation seems to be clued in to the reality that they have to become the vanguard of change to this global problem.

Committed to instilling the importance of environmental impact and setting the stage for young people to take action to protect the future of our planet, UMW Toyota Motor has been empowering youths with problem-solving skills and knowledge on environmental sustainability through its Toyota Eco Youth (TEY) programme since its first inception in 2001.

The nation-wide TEY programme, a joint initiative with the Education Ministry, is open to secondary school students aged 13-16 years. It educates the younger generation on environment preservation and trains them as ambassadors to ensure a sustainable future.

In its 20th edition this year, with the participation of the Leaderonomics Community, the TEY programme has set “Reimagining Mobility” as the theme, which is about the creation of safe and eco-friendly mobility while incorporating the spirit of inclusivity and freedom of ideas as the foundation.

Unlike previous years when the TEY was completed within a year, this year’s programme will run for three years, which will see the winners of the 2020/21 edition continuing as facilitators for the following year’s batch while they work on their proof of concept and prototype development.

At the same time, the digitalisation angle of TEY is taken up a notch with the setting up of a TEY Apprentice online club.

This year’s TEY programme garnered 283 team’s registration from 177 schools, and 16 teams were selected and underwent e-learning lessons and workshops to equip them with the Toyota problem solving methodology and real-life skills that would help in their projects. Due to the Covid-19 situation, all activities were conducted online.

Since last December, the 16 teams have been formulating their proposals which cover different areas of environmental initiatives.Their proposals were posted in social media channels such as Instagram for the public to view.The team from SMK Majakir Papar’s EF-Tosima 2.0 project composts food waste and converts it into agricultural fertiliser.The team from SMK Majakir Papar’s EF-Tosima 2.0 project composts food waste and converts it into agricultural fertiliser.

Each team also had an Agent M (Mobility) unit consisting of three to four members who presented solutions to environmental issues related to CASE (clothing, apps, smart tools or eco-friendly vehicles) in videos that were uploaded online for judging and public viewing.

In April, each team developed a podcast episode which was uploaded on Spotify under the TEY Channel on two platforms – Agency on Leaderonomics FM and on TEY Channel.

The final judging phase, which took place at the end of April, saw the selection of the top 10 finalists. These finalists will make their “pitches” with live presentations on May 29, and the winning teams will be chosen. The prize money has been doubled to further reward ingenuity amongst the youth, and winning teams will take home cash prizes from a RM64,000 prize pool.

“As always, we are highly impressed by the quality of the projects and the innovative ideas proposed. It is never easy for our judges to choose the best as everyone is a winner in their own way, ” said UMW Toyota Motor president K. Ravindran.

Ravindran said that while there were some proposals which were motor-related, many chose recycling for their projects.

“Waste, in various forms, contributes to pollution which is obviously bad for the environment. It is gratifying to see that the younger generation understands this and have come up with clever ideas to reduce or recycle waste products, ” he said.

Observing that there is always food left over after meals at their hostel, the team at SMK Majakir Papar in Sabah proposed a way to compost the food into fertiliser for agriculture purposes using a special tank. They visited the Kivatu Nature Farm to have a better understanding of organic compost and also learnt how to make the bokashi mixture, a necessary ingredient.

Another team from SMK St Anthony in Sarikei, Sarawak, also identified food waste as something which need not be discarded as it can be used for other purposes. They developed a “biogas digester” which could gradually degrade the organic waste to become fertiliser for plants.

“Toyota Eco Youth is a unique event in the Toyota world, and it has been held only in Malaysia the past 20 years, ” said UMW Toyota Motor deputy chairman Akio Takeyama.

“Toyota Motor Corporation and UMW Toyota Motor are proud to be playing a part in cultivating environment consciousness and innovative thinking for the young generation.

“It is assuring to know that the next generation will be ready to face new challenges that arise as we all strive to make our planet a better place for everyone, ” he said.

The TEY programme has been a leading programme cultivating environment consciousness and innovation among the youth of the nation. Since 2001, it has involved 258 schools, 1,910 secondary school students and 762 teachers throughout the country. Various themes have been introduced with one common goal – moulding an environmental conscious society of the future.

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