Future Alam Borneo members visiting Kampung Sim-Sim to inspect on plastic pollution in Sandakan, on Thursday. The local-based environmental is engaging with international non-governmental organisations to help tackle the longstanding pollution in Sandakan. - Pic courtesy of Future Alam Borneo

SANDAKAN: International non-government organisations (NGO) are stepping in to provide support to local environmental group here in its mission to tackle long-standing issue of plastic pollution in the state's second largest city.

Future Alam Borneo (FAB) is engaging with Clear Rivers (formerly known as Recycled Island Foundation) from the Netherlands to learn and obtain knowledge from international expertise with regards to plastic pollution.

FAB chairman Antoi Ngui, in a statement, said they had been looking at the steady increase in pollution locally for years and observed little effort to tackle the problem at the source.

"The issue has always been someone else's problem. The decline in civic-mindedness troubled us to the extent that we went searching for solutions that might be transferable to Sandakan.

"We first approached contacts in the Netherlands, which led to the meeting with Clear Rivers.

"The Dutch NGO will be visiting this year and supporting Sandakan with designs for litter traps and have offered the loan of a recycled plastics litter trap design, which they will ship to us for local use," he said.

Clear Rivers is expected to share their knowledge on a recycled plastic brick, developed by another Dutch designer, with huge potential for local habitation use.

Ngui said FAB had this year won a grant from Yayasan Hasanah (the foundation of Khazanah Nasional) to finance a year-long project called Sandakan Plastics Solutions Project.

"Working directly with two water villages, the project aims to better understand the communities' consumption patterns and waste generation, as baseline data of single use plastic creation.

"FAB hopes to process the recyclable plastic and create a series of new products from the waste in an attempt to replicate a more sustainable cycle of a product's life," he added.

Apart from Clear Rivers, he said the organisation has formed partnership international NGO Precious Plastics and Tonibung Create Borneo to materialise the vision and mission.

Concurrently, with partners in the United Kingdom, FAB has also jointly won the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund grant, Phase 1, looking at transforming waste to wealth. The fund is jointly financed by Innovate UK and Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology.

Ngui said FAB along with its UK and local partners would be studying local organic and plastic waste streams for creating new renewable technologies of commercial value.

"FAB hopes by better understanding and quantifying the plastic waste problem in Sandakan and its strategy of creating diverse working partnerships. With local stakeholders directly involved, it will lead to achieving quantifiable and valuable outcomes," he said.