Precious Plastics at MCM

Pupils and staff from Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) have developed a variety of powerful service activities that have been designed to teach the College community the value and importance of action, in response to the current climate emergency.

With inspiring sixth-form leaders and enthusiastic activists from amongst the wider pupil population, initiatives such as half-termly beach clean, Operation Wallacea and Barton Farm are becoming deeply embedded in the MCM experience.

A particularly popular initiative that has been offered during the Friday afternoon enrichment activity programme, is ‘Precious Plastic’.

 Led by the Design and Technology (DT) department, the Precious Plastic initiative makes it possible for MCM to recycle a number of polymers on-site, using waste bottles and bags as raw material for new products that can be used within he curriculum, or even sold, to keep plastics in circulation and out of landfill. This not only reduces the DT department’s reliance on imported and single-use plastics, but it reduces MCMs carbon footprint and offers invaluable learning experiences.

Having started by cutting plastics into small pieces by hand, the project has progressed significantly since Mr Mason and Mr Ulysses built a powerful shredding machine. An injection moulding machine is also nearing completion. These tools complement the well-equipped department, making it possible to manufacture beautiful sheet materials that can be used in the department for pupils to use in models and prototypes, in place of virgin acrylic and polypropylene.

Precious Plastic (www.preciousplastic.com) is an open-source community, led by the charismatic pioneer, Dave Hakkens. It has 80,000 members and over 1,000 workspaces, most of which are small businesses and social enterprises. MCM is the third workspace to open in Malaysia and the only site in Johor. As far as we know, we are the only school/college to have built our own precious plastic machines and engage in on-site recycling.

Pupils have been very excited to work with recycled polymers, and the Friday afternoon recycling activity is hugely oversubscribed. This programme has allowed pupils to gain an insight into waste management systems in Malaysia and further afield, which is in-turn influencing their attitudes and opinions. Although the cleaning and shredding processes can be arduous, and at times unpleasant, pupils have shown resilience and positivity throughout, in recognition of global pollution and the need for a change in habits and a response to damage that has already been caused.

This project is still in early stages of development, but it is showing promise to be a powerful learning aid and energy-saving tool. Updates on this project will be available through the College website and on Twitter.

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