Seberang Perai’s ‘Orange Heroes’ turn discards into things of value

By Siti Azila Alias

KEPALA BATAS, April 5: Usually things are thrown away when they are deemed useless but these discards have their own value to those who know how to make the most of them.

Tasked with the mission of reducing waste at landfills, the Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) Upcycle Unit, dubbed “Orange Heroes”, have taken the initiative to turn these discards into high value products.

They have currently created over 70 products using recycled items such as tyres, drums, dishwasher bottles, wood pellets and tins, at their workshop, located at the Bertam MBSP Cleanliness Operations Depot here.

Some of the rubbish have been turned into eye-catching replicas of emus, and motorcycles here along with items like racks, pots, furniture sets as well as souvenirs.

MBSP Strategic Planning Division Upcycle and Beautification Unit senior foreman Azizul Abdul Rahim said there were more than 10 staff in the unit, which was set up three years ago, each with their own roles in turning rubbish into valuable products.

Their detailed craftsmanship was evident in how realistic some of the replicas that have been made from used tyres, he said.

“We obtain the materials from individuals, factories, landfills, tyre workshops and vehicle service centres, then we gather to contribute ideas on how to transform them into handicraft and ornaments that can be sold to the public,” he told Bernama recently, adding that prices ranged from RM3 to RM1,000, with most orders being landscape decorations and furniture sets from government agencies and schools.

It takes the staff usually a week to complete and order as it required a certain level of detail and attention, while the external pattern was handmade by an experienced artist in the unit.

The team is also responsible for beautifying recreational areas around Seberang Perai with their handiwork and they have made-over more than 20 illegal dumpsites, turning them into beautiful photographic locations.

When not deep in an upcycle project, the team also accepts invitations to hold exhibitions and talks in schools to boost public awareness and share tips with students who sign up for contests to create recycled products.

Suparman Hashim, 54, an artist in the unit, shared his happiness in having the opportunity to be part of the team as he has been into art since his schooling days.

A military veteran, Suparman said drawing was not a hard thing to do, but the challenge was in completing detailed work, such as taking three days for a logo, as this required focus and detailing so that it did not look like a mere drawing, but was a real logo.

“I have worked with the MBSP for over six years, starting as a garbage collector before being absorbed into this unit.

“While working in the previous position (as a garbage collector), I found that (most members of) our society is less aware about ensuring cleanliness and littered indiscriminately, so I was glad to be in this unit as it can be a platform for the public to better appreciate a clean environment,” he said.