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Recycling leftover food into bio-fertiliser

Heng Ee High School Interact Club assistant secretary Ewe Chang Shun, 16, pouring waste into the food conversion unit.

Publication Date : 25-05-2012


For the past two months, Brandon Wee Hong Jie has been dutifully collecting leftover food and waste from the eight stalls at the Heng Ee High School canteen in George Town, the capital of Malaysia's Penang state.

The 16-year-old then carries the buckets of waste – including noodles, rice, fruit peels, vegetables and small pieces of bones – to a machine next to the canteen, adds bokashi fermentation microbes and bio-cleaners and starts grinding the mixture.

Brandon then transfers the ground output through a pipe to three large retention tanks where it is stored for 28 days for fermentation and turned into bio-fertiliser.

No, Brandon is not one of the stall helpers. The Form Four student is among a team of 11 who have made it their daily routine to recycle some 100kg of food waste daily.

Sponsored by the Rotary Club of George Town, the 18,800 ringgit (US$5,969) Bio-Regen Instant Food Conversion Unit was installed at the school in Jalan Hamilton two months ago.

Brandon, who is the school’s Interact Club incoming president, said club members would take turns to handle waste management in what is believed to be the first such school project.

Each retention tank can store 1,000 litres of liquid waste.

To date, the school has produced six tanks of waste which were then collected by the machine manufacturer for further processing.

School senior administrative assistant Loh Soo Ping said the waste management method had helped tremendously in keeping the canteen environment cleaner.

“The drains are noticeably cleaner without food residue and there’s also no foul smell.

“Also, the duty gives students a better sense of responsibility as well as raises the 3,200 students’ awareness about protecting the environment,” she said.

Rotary Club of George Town past president Don Law said the school was chosen as its Interact Club and Environmental Club were very active.

“We hope to inculcate the awareness of recycling from an early age,” he said.

He added that the club was hoping to raise money to buy another four more units for other schools.

“We are having a food fair on Sunday at the Northam Beach Cafe and we are aiming to raise 100,000 ringgit ($31,751) for our club’s Rotary Green Sustainability Fund,” he said.


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