Thai 'scavengers club' turns trash to treasure

Thai grandmother Nom Prom-on rummages through rubbish bins looking for bottles, cans and paper to trade for food and other goods at a recycling cooperative providing a lifeline for Bangkok's poor.

Riding an old motorcycle with a rubbish cart attached, the 61-year-old and her husband Rai rise early to beat rival scavengers to claim the best of the city's recyclable trash, which they take to a cash-free "zero baht shop".

The couple have combed bins for decades, but their earnings of less than 10 dollars per day are not always enough to live on, so they have turned to the cooperative.

"When we're starving, we can find rubbish to exchange for rice to eat, detergent, soap and everything," said Nom, who also has grandchildren to raise and feed.

By selling to the recycling plants in bulk, the cooperative gets a better rate than individual scavengers would manage on their own.

Profits are then paid back in dividends and other benefits to its members such as life insurance, interest rates from its "rubbish bank" and help paying medical fees.

It is the brainchild of former scavenger Peerathorn Seniwong and his wife Buarin.

"We thought of how we could help the poor -- then we thought of rubbish -- at least every house must have rubbish," Peerathorn, 45, told AFP.

The scheme's 800 members include 35 households of scavengers along with other local people who heard about the shop in an area of eastern Bangkok and now bring their recyclables to trade.

A former security guard and motorcycle taxi driver, Peerathorn came up with the idea after six years of living homeless under an elevated road in Bangkok.

"Sometimes we would have to buy things like fish sauce or rice on credit at shops," said Buarin.

"But people looked down on us as we're poor and they'd wonder whether they would get their money back -- that's why we started our own shop."

Fish sauce, rice, eggs, instant noodles, toothpastes and detergent are among the goods most sought by members, about 20-30 of whom visit the shop each day, Buarin added.

There are several hundred thousand scavengers in Thailand earning about 200-300 baht ($6.5-10) a day, according to Thailand's Institute of Packaging and Recycling Management for Sustainable Environment, which has provided education schemes for members on issues such as hygiene and sorting rubbish.

An estimated quarter of Thailand's 15 million tonnes of garbage in a year is recycled -- largely thanks to scavengers rather than efforts by consumers to separate their waste.

The cooperative's success is inspiring others too, with several similar cash-free shops opening up in the capital and elsewhere.

The institute hopes that 80 cash-free recycling shops will be set up across Thailand by the end of 2013.

The project is also generating interest overseas with visitors from as far afield as Singapore, Japan and Mexico coming to see how it works.

Its success reflects changing attitudes towards rubbish, said Gloyta Nathalang, communications and environment director at Tetra Pak (Thailand) Ltd, which runs the country's only plant for recycling used beverage cartons.

"Recycling is not an alien word any more -- people are aware and want to take more action. But I think what we are lacking now is the system in place," she said.

Peerathorn is proud of what he has achieved since his years living homeless under what people used to sarcastically call his hundred million baht roof.

Rubbish collecting has provided a good way to supplement his income, he says, and allows him flexible working hours.

"It's better to work as a scavenger because I don't have to be anyone's employee. Nobody tells me what to do," he said.

--

Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
Loading...
  • Shell: Fire forces closure of key oil pipeline in Nigeria Associated Press - 8 minutes ago

    A fire has forced the closure of a key oil pipeline in Nigeria, Shell said Tuesday, amid ongoing challenges including militant attacks that are losing oil multinationals billions of dollars in what used ... … More »

  • Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook AFP - 9 minutes ago

    German data protection authorities on Tuesday said they had blocked Facebook from collecting subscriber data from its subsidiary WhatsApp, citing privacy concerns. Facebook and WhatsApp promised in the ... … More »

  • Ride-hailing company Careem says profitability in sight Reuters - 10 minutes ago

    Ride-hailing service Careem is targeting profitability next year or in 2018 and is in talks with potential investors about its latest fundraising plans, co-founder Mudassir Sheikha told Reuters on Tuesday. The company, which has a larger market … More »

  • Tok Belagak arrested over gold investment scam New Straits Times - 18 minutes ago

    KUALA LUMPUR: Police yesterday arrested the chairman of a gold trading company for allegedly scamming an investor of more than RM80,000 in 2014. Kajang district police chief Assistant Commissioner Othman Nanyan said the 51-year-old man, known by … More »

  • U.S. stocks firm after debate but oil a drag
    U.S. stocks firm after debate but oil a drag Reuters - 21 minutes ago

    By Richard Leong NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock prices rose on Tuesday following the presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but losses in the oil market and anxiety about the fortune ... … More »

  • How a Part-Time Actor Got Lead Role at $2.6 Billion Stock Fund Bloomberg - 33 minutes ago

    Sawakami saw a spark and later offered him a job. “He’s a rascal,” Sawakami said in an interview, using an affectionate Japanese term that parents reserve for headstrong children. Kusakari is a rare example of a person in Japan who diverged from a … More »

  • Iran dims hopes for deal on output freeze this week
    Iran dims hopes for deal on output freeze this week Associated Press - 42 minutes ago

    Iran played down hopes Tuesday that a deal to limit oil production will emerge this week in a meeting in Algeria, prompting big falls in oil prices. Speaking in Algiers at a meeting of oil producing countries, ... … More »

  • Swiss lawmakers approve step towards burqa ban
    Swiss lawmakers approve step towards burqa ban AFP News - 45 minutes ago

    Switzerland's lower house on Tuesday narrowly approved a draft bill on a nationwide burqa ban, the ATS news agency reported, but the measure remains far from coming into force. The proposal by lawmaker Walter Wobmann of the populist right-wing … More »

  • Facebook to appeal German order on WhatsApp data
    Facebook to appeal German order on WhatsApp data Reuters - 47 minutes ago

    Facebook (FB.O) said it would appeal against an order by a German privacy regulator on Tuesday to stop collecting and storing data of German users of its messaging app WhatsApp and to delete all data that has already been forwarded to it. The … More »

  • Samsung recovers around 60 percent of recalled Note 7s in South Korea, U.S., Europe
    Samsung recovers around 60 percent of recalled Note 7s in South Korea, U.S., Europe Reuters - 51 minutes ago

    Samsung Electronics Co said on Tuesday it has got back around 60 percent of recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in South Korea, the United States and Europe, suggesting it is making progress in its attempts to recover from the crisis. In a … More »

  • Saudis, Iran dash hopes for OPEC oil deal in Algeria
    Saudis, Iran dash hopes for OPEC oil deal in Algeria Reuters - 52 minutes ago

    Saudi Arabia and Iran on Tuesday dashed hopes that OPEC oil producers could clinch an output-limiting deal in Algeria this week as sources said the group and non-member Russia were still trying to bridge differences between the kingdom and Tehran. … More »

  • Putin praises farmers for Russia's strong grain harvest
    Putin praises farmers for Russia's strong grain harvest Associated Press - 55 minutes ago

    President Vladimir Putin has praised farmers for making Russia's grain harvest this year the highest in post-Soviet times. Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev reported to Putin on Tuesday that this ... … More »

  • Grain mixed, livestock mixed Associated Press - 55 minutes ago

    Grain futures were mixed Tuesday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for December delivery was .25 cent lower at $3.9560 a bushel; December corn was .50 cent higher at $3.2960 bushel; ... … More »

  • Telefonica aims to list mobile firm O2 in London this year - sources
    Telefonica aims to list mobile firm O2 in London this year - sources Reuters - 55 minutes ago

    Spain's Telefonica (TEF.MC) is looking to list about 30 percent of its British mobile unit O2 in what would be one of the biggest initial public offerings (IPOs) on the London market this year, sources told Reuters. Europe's biggest telecom group … More »

  • Turkey sacks 87 spy agency staff over failed coup
    Turkey sacks 87 spy agency staff over failed coup AFP News - 56 minutes ago

    Turkey has dismissed 87 staff from its spy agency over alleged links to the failed July 15 coup, state media said Tuesday, in the first purge of one of the country's most powerful institutions. The National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) has … More »

  • One of the world’s biggest venture capital companies has shut down its Israeli fund
    One of the world’s biggest venture capital companies has shut down its Israeli fund Business Insider - 58 minutes ago

    REUTER/ Nir Elias Tel Aviv. Sequoia, a multibillion-dollar … Continued The post One of the world’s biggest venture capital companies has shut down its Israeli fund appeared first on Business Insider. … More »

  • US stocks open higher, led by tech and consumer companies
    US stocks open higher, led by tech and consumer companies Associated Press - 1 hour 6 minutes ago

    U.S. stocks are rising in Tuesday morning trading as technology and consumer companies move higher. Energy companies are falling as the price of oil returns some of Monday's gains. Bond prices continue ... … More »

  • Michigan inmates get job training in 'vocational village'
    Michigan inmates get job training in 'vocational village' Associated Press - 1 hour 7 minutes ago

    Few states have been more aggressive in releasing inmates and diverting offenders than Michigan, where a decade ago, one out of every 200 people was in prison, and penal costs were beginning to crowd out ... … More »

  • Clinton-fuelled stocks rally slips on oil
    Clinton-fuelled stocks rally slips on oil AFP News - 1 hour 7 minutes ago

    A stocks rally triggered by Hillary Clinton's upbeat performance in the first US presidential debate over Republican rival Donald Trump slid away Tuesday on a dim outlook for an oil deal. The London stock market shed 0.7 percent, Frankfurt was down … More »

  • 21 objects that are perfectly designed and can’t be improved any further
    21 objects that are perfectly designed and can’t be improved any further Business Insider - 1 hour 16 minutes ago

    Skye Gould/Tech Insider Some things are so timeless, recognizable, … Continued The post 21 objects that are perfectly designed and can’t be improved any further appeared first on Business Insider. … More »

  • US stocks rise on strong consumer confidence data AFP - 1 hour 17 minutes ago

    A report showing strong consumer confidence in September helped boost US stocks into positive territory early Tuesday, overcoming initial weakness on lower oil prices. US consumer confidence jumped to ... … More »

  • Deutsche Boerse Asia plans sidelined by LSE merger effort
    Deutsche Boerse Asia plans sidelined by LSE merger effort Reuters - 1 hour 22 minutes ago

    Deutsche Boerse's (DB1Gn.DE) expansion plans in Asia have been moved to a side track as the German exchange operator focuses on its $27 billion merger with the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L), three sources familiar with the situation said. China's … More »

  • Chinese coal accident 'kills 12, traps 8'
    Chinese coal accident 'kills 12, traps 8' AFP News - 1 hour 23 minutes ago

    The mine was operated by Linli Coal Mining company in the city of Shizuishan, the official Xinhua news agency reported. In a report late Tuesday it said 12 bodies had been recovered from the mineshaft, with eight people still trapped. … More »

  • Wall Street propped up by tech stocks
    Wall Street propped up by tech stocks Reuters - 1 hour 29 minutes ago

    Wall Street was higher for the first time in three days on Tuesday as a rise in technology stocks helped offset losses in energy shares. Google parent Alphabet rose 0.7 percent after JPMorgan raised its price target on the stock, driving the S&P … More »

  • Ask Brianna: Will I ever be able to afford a house?
    Ask Brianna: Will I ever be able to afford a house? Associated Press - 1 hour 30 minutes ago

    "Ask Brianna" is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I'm here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world ... … More »

 
Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
 
Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.141+0.003+2.17%
    N21.SI
    3.99+0.03+0.76%
    Z74.SI
    0.155+0.003+1.97%
    AFC.SI
    0.740.000.00%
    BS6.SI
    0.275+0.010+3.77%
    5ME.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.133+0.020+17.70%
    5PF.SI
    0.19+0.03+15.85%
    AWI.SI
    1.48+0.16+12.12%
    S91.SI
    0.198+0.020+11.24%
    M14.SI
    0.60+0.05+9.09%
    AZA.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.255-0.110-30.14%
    AZT.SI
    0.56-0.18-24.32%
    5VJ.SI
    0.395-0.070-15.05%
    K1Q.SI
    0.162-0.028-14.74%
    BGO.SI
    0.122-0.020-14.08%
    569.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.3612+0.001+0.07%
    USDSGD=X
    1.5240-0.0063-0.41%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7695+0.0067+0.38%
    GBPSGD=X
    73.7760+0.052+0.07%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.6951-0.0042-0.07%
    SGDHKD=X
    3.0331-0.0011-0.04%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,516.6582-62.1641-0.65%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.8985-0.0033-0.07%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0423+0.0037+0.36%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,329.50-14.60-1.09%
    GCZ16.CMX
    19.26-0.34-1.71%
    SIZ16.CMX
    92.20-2.25-2.39%
    ^XAU
    2.17-0.03-1.48%
    HGZ16.CMX
    43.85+0.41+0.94%
    CLV16.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.11-0.01
    ^FVX
    1.56-0.03
    ^TNX
    2.29-0.04
    ^TYX