It is said that the best way to learn is to do. Such is the basis for the Waste-Free Community waste management education program founded by Chemicals Business, SCG, at the beginning of 2019, The education program has now yielded pilot programs at three schools in Rayong Province, namely Ban Map Ta Phut School, Wat Chak Lookya School, and Wat Map Chalut School, to pave the way for waste management and the practice of “maximizing resource, separating waste, and proper disposal” in the future.
Connecting households, temples, and schools to community waste banks plays an important role in enabling communities to integrate waste management systematically. Moreover, schools are a good starting point for children to learn how to optimize resources and try their hands at waste management in the hopes that these behaviors will be transferred to others in their household, thus implementing changes to the community level by laying a foundation among youth.
Starting at School
The educational programs on waste management for students in all three pilot schools begin with education on the different types of waste materials generated in schools. A clear example for the students is the Milk Pouches Save the World Station, which instills in students the importance of finishing their milk without wasting any before cutting open, washing, drying, and collecting the pouches for recycling. Ultimately, these milk pouches are transformed new products, such as plastic chairs and planters, thus serving as tangible outcomes of the collaborative effort of everyone in the school on waste management.
As for other types of waste, SCG also collaborates with schools in leveraging local expertise and experience to ensure that every type of waste is managed effectively and sustainably, such as with the Green Canteen Station, which encourages students to finish their meals in order to reduce food waste, while any waste produced moves on to the Green Cone Station.
“SCG has collaborated with the schools to identify problems and learn about types of school wastes, as well as leverage local expertise and experience to find solutions and ensure that each type of waste undergoes effective disposal, along with monitoring results and further building on successful outcomes to create school waste management guidelines that can be sustainably implemented.”
—Walailak Jinhirunkul, Assistant CSR Project Manager, Chemicals Business, SCG and a key member of the Waste-Free Community Program.
Uniting the Community
Schools and temples also have to handle large quantities of organic matter, such as leaves, which are now processed at the No-Flipping Fertilizer Station into fertilizers for the trees or at the Bio-Fermented Water Station to produce soil conditioners. Additionally, a community waste bank has been established to function as an intermediary in facilitating the proper management of recyclable waste, such as plastic bottles, cups, and cans, for further processing, bringing students a sense of pride as well as a bit of income from selling recyclables to invest in school activities. All of these are experiences which students can learn from first-hand and pass on to other members of their family.
“SCG’s waste management learning stations help foster environmental consciousness in students effectively, and when students go home to their communities, they take with them these good habits and educate their parents on the potential value of recycling waste to generate additional income. All of this is made possible through collaboration among schools, the state, and private companies in the area like SCG. Furthermore, this learning process can also function as a model for other schools.”
—Sanong Petchakan, Director of Wat Chak Lookya School
Fostering social awareness and responsibility begins with cultivating the practice of “maximizing resource, separating waste, and proper disposal” in the smallest units of society, like school children, in order to create a ripple effect within their families and communities, with the ultimate goal of building communities which value and understand how to optimize the use of resources in daily habits that can be easily implemented by anyone as a foundation for creating a society in accordance with the sustainable circular economy principles that SCG prioritizes.