| Ali Imran Mohd Noordin |
RAWANG (Bernama) – “I am really happy. I have been waiting anxiously for this house. I kept thinking about it, even dreamt about it,” said Sofian Othman, 25, an Orang Asli of Temuan tribe.
Earning only RM600 a month, the gardener has been wishing for a better place called home in his own village in Kampung Hulu Tamu, Batang Kali, near here.
Sofian’s biggest concern is the safety and comfort for his four year-old daughter in moving about freely without the need to worry of the rotten wooden flooring giving way or the whole house shaking when she jumps.
“We plan to decorate the house nicely. My wife wants to plant flowers around the house, I will take care of the furniture and other household items,” he said while posing for a photo for Bernama.
Sofian is among the 10 recipients of the ‘Epic Home’ built under the CAREton project, a collaborative consumer recycling initiative by Tetra Pak, in partnership with chocolate drink brand Milo and a social enterprise, Epic Homes.
Who will have imagined that used beverage cartons are totally recyclable and can be turned into roofs for homes?
Managing Director of Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, Brian May said that upon realising that there were about a billion drink packs consumed annually, the company wanted to play its role in promoting a recycling culture.
Therefore, the company has taken the first step by ensuring all components of its cartons were recyclable. The drink packs when broken down to their components comprise of three major elements – paper (75 per cent), plastic (20 per cent) and aluminum (five per cent).
Once the cartons get to the recycling facility, the paper element can be separated from the plastic and aluminium elements. The paper component will then be sent to paper making facility where it will be used for making other paper-based products like corrugated carton boxes.
So what is going to happen to the plastic and aluminium component, known as Poly-Al elements?
At the hot press facility, Poly-Al could be turned into various products and for the benefit of CAREton project they have been turned into roofing tiles. These roofing tiles were used on the Epic Home.
“This is our third year of commitment to the project. Awareness on recycling is growing steadily here in Malaysia and for that we have also expanded our network of recycling drop-off points to over 460, compared with 230 at the end of 2013,” Brian added.
“Unlike the normal zinc roof commonly used by most village houses, Poly-Al roof fares better because it has high water and fire resistance,” said Tetra Pak Environmental Manager Manju Murugesan.
The roof has antirust features, and due to the material used and the design, Poly-Al roof also serves as an insulation agent against heat and noise, besides coming with a 10-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Each Epic Home requires 46 roofing tiles. Each roofing tile requires 7,247 recycled drink packs. In other words, each Epic Home requires up to 333,362 recycled drink packs.
As of November 2014, the project had collected 7.2 million used drink packs exceeding the targeted number of five million packs, like how it did since the programme was introduced in 2012.
With the completion of the 10th house this year using roof tiles contributed by previous year’s project, CAREton is now eyeing to build another 20 houses for the needy Orang Asli community next year.
For three days 30 volunteers worked from morning till evening with only one-hour lunch break to complete Sofian’s house.
John-Son Oei, Founder and CEO of social entrepreneurship company Epic Homes said they always believed in the spirit of volunteerism in building every Epic Home.
However, he admitted that collaboration with strategic partners such as Tetra Pak and Milo, representing Nestle Malaysia, benefited all parties in many areas.
“Building homes for Orang Asli is a highly rewarding exercise but can be costly. Each home costs up to RM 40,000 to build and we rely on sponsors for the material,” said John-Son.
He added that the partners also went the extra mile by deploying their staff as volunteers to take part in the three-day house building processes with high level of spirit and teamwork.
Overall, the Epic Homes has over 1,000 registered volunteers for their house building projects for the Orang Asli community. For the past four years, they have built 33 houses in four different locations in various states.