Malaysians will soon be the first to earn gold by recycling their plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Southeast Asian fintech firm HelloGold and Malaysia’s reverse-vending machine (RVM) company KLEAN are implementing a recycling scheme that offers Malaysians 0.00059 grams of investment-grade gold for each recycled plastic bottle and each aluminum can.
Anyone can start earning gold by first downloading the HelloGold app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store and registering for an account. Once registered, users can bring their plastic bottles and aluminum cans to any KLEAN RVM for recycling. After depositing the bottles or cans in the machine, users can choose to convert their KLEAN e-credits into gold through a seamless integration between the KLEAN digital wallet and the HelloGold mobile app. Users can also register for an account at any of the forty machines that will be available across Klang Valley in July, and 500 machines across Malaysia at key locations before the end of the year.
Robin Lee, CEO and Co-founder of HelloGold, said, “Emerging economies across Asia are dealing with increasing plastic use and consumption. Without adequate recycling infrastructure or habits in place, these plastics end up in landfills and oceans destroying the environment. HelloGold’s partnership with KLEAN will incentivise people to clean up the environment, while accessing new financial products such as gold.”
“In our mission to enable everyone access to safe and affordable gold products to protect their savings, HelloGold has been expanding our reach to millions of online and offline communities through key partnerships such as Axiata’s Boost and Aeon Credit. Our latest partnership with KLEAN reflects our shared values in using innovative technology to enable financial inclusion and wealth creation for the man on the street,” Robin concluded.
Increasing plastic waste has become a pressing environmental problem for countries across Asia. Six of the top ten countries most responsible for plastic waste entering the ocean are in Asia, leading with China and followed by Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally, an estimated US$80-120 billion economic loss per year.
Nick Boden, CEO of KLEAN, said, “Plastic waste is increasing around the world, yet recycling rates remain low. Through this partnership, we aim to encourage greater recycling by showing Malaysians the potential wealth and money that lies around our communities, in our landfills and floats in our oceans.”
Nick continued, “After launching in Malaysia, we see great potential to expand our offering to other countries such as Singapore and South Africa. In countries such as South Africa, plastic scavenging is often the main source of income for families who must sell their plastic within an informal economy that is dominated by middle men with high fees. Enabling these families to directly access virtual currency or gold at KLEAN’s reverse vending machines will allow for a safer and more stable economic livelihood.”
The KLEAN Reverse Vending Machines collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles, sort and crush on site, while registering users and rewarding them with virtual points. These collected items are then smelted back into aluminum in the case of cans and recycled into PET pellets in the case of plastic bottles.
According to Reuters, imports of plastic waste have increased sharply in Southeast Asia following China’s decision to ban imports of plastic waste from the start of 2018. Malaysia’s plastic imports jumped from 288,000 tonnes in 2016 to 450,000 tonnes in 2017; in the same period, Vietnam’s imports rose 62%, Thailand’s 117%, and Indonesia’s 65%.