Uplifting communities and transforming the value of waste through RIPPLE, an A.R.C. Challenge Malaysia project by the British Council

Biji-biji Initiative partners with Falmouth University in the Responsible Innovation Plastics Project for Life and Environment  (RIPPLE) project through the ‘Awareness, Resilience and Collaboration’ A.R.C. Challenge Malaysia by the British Council.

Through the A.R.C. Challenge Malaysia, one of the British Council’s initiatives in leading up to the COP26, Biji-biji Initiative looks forward to partnering with Falmouth University in a knowledge and skills transfer programme to innovate new product and communications opportunities based on an ongoing small-scale plastic recycling project in Malaysia, called Beyond Bins. Communities engaged in this initiative will benefit from learning about the role of design in the circular economy while Falmouth students innovate ways to create new products from waste. 

In the narrative of climate change, the circular economy forms an indispensable component to meet the main goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. 

The circular economy plays a role in reducing the remaining 45% of total current greenhouse gas emissions, which is contributed by how we make and use products and how we produce food. 

As we enter a new decade, the clock continues to tick; the urgency for climate action has never been greater. As an initiative leading up to COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in November in Glasgow, UK, the British Council launched the A.R.C. (‘Awareness, Resilience and Collaboration’) Challenge Malaysia. 

Innovating with plastics for the circular economy with RIPPLE

Biji-biji Initiative and Falmouth University are one of the three grant recipients of the A.R.C. Challenge Malaysia, giving way to the RIPPLE (Responsible Innovation Plastics Project for Life and Environment ) project. 

“Through the A.R.C. grant, we are given the opportunity to join forces with international partners, in this case an award-winning UK university,” says Juliana Adam, the Chief Executive Officer of Biji-biji Initiative. 

“This partnership enables Biji-biji to gain different perspectives from up-and-coming, young international talent, taking into consideration their varied background and exposure to sustainability and product design and having that mixed with a local context.”  

A design thinking lens in viewing climate change 

RIPPLE also hopes to build a legacy of young designers who actively practice design thinking skills that embed the climate change agenda. 

The students from Falmouth University will collaborate to innovate new product and communication opportunities based on the ongoing small-scale plastic recycling solutions that are currently in place with local (Malaysia) communities, called Beyond Bins

Beyond Bins is a circular economy initiative that engages local marginalised or remote communities in a recycling initiative that turns waste into 100% recycled products and generates streams of alternative income for these communities. 

Since 2020, Beyond Bins has engaged the Association of Social Service and Community Development of the Gombak District (PSPK), a registered non-profit organisation empowering individuals, especially women and the youth, in social integration and socio-economic development towards achieving responsible, productive and harmonious living. 

Uplifting underprivileged communities 

Through RIPPLE, a skills-transfer workshop between Falmouth students and members of the PSPK community will be conducted to ensure the knowledge is passed on and to ultimately benefit all stakeholders involved. 

Members of the PSPK community will gain valuable opportunities to apply skills and concepts learned from the Beyond Bins programme in creating recycled plastic products from household plastic waste, opening up alternative income streams. 

In the long-term, this engagement serves as a profound reminder of the meaning behind small-scale, community-based work done to accelerate efforts in mitigating the impacts of climate change. 

In a previous interview held in March 2021, Keerthana, the administrator of PSPK, notes the shift in the purpose of sustainable behavior among the members of the community. 

“You’ll see these people in the communities selling recyclables, but it is not done from a sustainability focus,” explained Keerthana. 

“Biji-biji’s programme has worked well to help the community gain awareness about sustainability and recycling, and now these people have a renewed sense of purpose,” said Keerthana.

Changing mindsets about the value of plastic waste 

Plastic is generally viewed as a low-value waste material. Positive attitudes in dealing with waste, such as proper recycling habits and a sustainability mindset often come as an afterthought. 

Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced, 6.3 billion metric tons have become plastic waste; but only 9% has been recycled

Through RIPPLE, Biji-biji and Falmouth aims to revolutionise perception and behaviour towards plastic through design thinking and innovation, demonstrating the crucial role of design in the circular economy and in culminating intentional, positive environmental behaviour.

Biji-biji Initiative hopes to elevate Beyond Bins through the strategic partnership with Falmouth University through A.R.C. Challenge Malaysia, opening up diversified opportunities to scale, and more importantly, to spark greater conversations with other stakeholders to put actions in place. 

In the race against the clock for a sustainable future, the world inevitably needs quick, radical and innovative action to advance the climate agenda. RIPPLE is a window into a world of possibilities of a circular economy through principles of design thinking, paving the way for future changemakers and leaders who embed climate action in all that they do. 

For more information about the A.R.C. Challenge Malaysia grant, please visit British Council Malaysia’s website here

Click here to learn more about the partnership between Biji-biji Initiative and Falmouth University.

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