CEO Series

This M'sian Duo Transforms Nasty Used Cooking Oil Into Fresh-Scented Handmade Soaps

So if you’ve clicked on this article, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here about how more can always be done to help the environment. But here’s a little plot twist: in all honesty, most of an individual’s actions to save the environment barely puts a dent into environmental destruction.

The biggest contributor to everything from ozone thinning to the greenhouse effect is industrial work. So it’s the manufacturers that need to check themselves, before they wreck all of us.

With this line of thought, we at Vulcan Post are happy to support initiatives that think about reusing and recycling on a bigger scale than just one household at a time. This leads us to today’s eco-friendly startup Green Yards, not to be confused with Greenyards, a known vegetable seller.

Green <space> Yards is a manufacturer of handcrafted soaps and candles right here in Malaysia. The kicker? They use cooking oil waste from restaurants and households as the base for their soaps.

Biggest Contributors To Water Pollution—Waste Dumping

As an environmentally-conscious student in UPM, Wen Shin, co-founder of Green Yards started this project while in university. However, she didn’t think of turning it into a full-fledged business until after she left.

We’re all familiar with the ubiquitous paper, aluminium and glass bins, but as Wen Shin points out, there aren’t any for cooking oil. Recruiting the help of pal Kenzie Chan, the duo (and only members of this team) set out to make a difference for the poor, greased-up aquatic life.

There aren’t many options for disposing cooking oil waste, thanks to the solid waste regulations that says you can’t dump liquids in landfills. As a result, this excess cooking oil is either burnt, which creates sooty black smoke or poured down kitchen sinks and drains that:

  • make for unsanitary water
  • disrupt the ecological environment in rivers and seas

So all of this pollutes both the skies and the sea. Not bueno at all.

In their own bid to help with this cooking oil crisis, Green Yards is instead turning this cooking excess into soaps and candles, among other things like eco washing powders.

Crowdsourcing Their Cooking Oil

In Malaysia alone, 220 million liters of used cooking oil is dumped into our poor, unprepared drains each year, equivalent to 88 Olympic-sized swimming pools (Friendly advice: Don’t imagine a swimming pool filled with used cooking oil, with black sediments floating on the surface. Yuck).

Seriously guys, don’t imagine it (Image Credit: Green Yards)

The team’s main sourcing point is actually restaurants, because they produce more excess oil in a day, and they also provide a more consistent supply point for soap production. But to help households save their pipes from oil clogging, a great misfortune on a household even on a selfish, non eco-concern level, Green Yards also collects cooking oil from households at their TTDI collection point.

And for every 5kg of cooking oil given out, participants can get a free bar of handcrafted Green Yards soap.

But here’s the thing, though. It turns out that most of the oil sourced from their collection points gets sent to their bio-diesel partners to be reprocessed. Green Yards definitely wants to provide users with a non-drain or fire option to unload their excess oil, but due to halal concerns, they realised that they can’t assure the halal status of the cooking oils dropped-off. Therefore, their soaps are only made from oil from Muslim-friendly restaurants.

Clean Your Bodies, And The Malaysian Rivers

Image Credit: Green Yards

Some readers might rightly have concerns about the cleanliness of the products, which is completely understandable. We posed this query to the Green Yards, and here’s what co-founder Wen Shin has to say:

“First, we collect used cooking oil from households and restaurants. Then, we use micron filters with pores smaller than a strand of hair to remove sediments and impurities.”

This is what gets reprocessed into soaps and candles.

“The process of making candles  and soaps both take around few hours depending on the batch size. However, soaps need to be rested for a month before they can be reused,” continued Wen Shin.

Image Credit: Green Yards

All of their soaps and candles are handmade by the small team of two.

Orders for Green Yards stamped products can be made online on their website, but they also get business in Petrosains, The Discovery Centre as well, on top of a few pop-up stalls here and there in true handmade soap style.

“In addition, we are currently partnering with 5 different social enterprises and have developed a brand named ‘Impact Gifts’,” said Wen Shin. “We all have the same goal which is maintaining a sustainable business while creating the greatest social impacts. When several social enterprises join forces, less effort needs to be made but greater impacts can be achieved.”

The Ramadhan collection (Image Credit: Green Yards Facebook)

For handmade soap enthusiasts, Green Yards presents an eco-friendly option to spend those hard-earned dollars on. And with soap at RM8.00 per 100 gram bar, and candles at RM24.90 a pop (scented Vanilla and Lavender) they stand at a relatively cheap price for similar products. On top of the usual direct-to-customer purchases, the team also makes corporate gifts of their soaps.

Furthemore, Green Yards is also looking to collaborate with corporate giants who might want to pick the Green Yards up for related projects, events or CSR activities.

Wen Shin finished with this, “Besides, we are also looking to set up more grease collection point at different community areas, high rise residential buildings or collaborate with housing developers so that it will be more convenient for people to recycle the used cooking oil.”

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