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Old man turns trash into green, profitable treasure

Update: May, 25/2017 - 09:00
Nguyễn Lương Thông holds high a new rubber product made of waste tyre. — Photo baotainguyenmoitruong.vn
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Tyres are reportedly among most problematic sources of waste, but Nguyễn Lương Thông from Nam Định Province’s Ý Yên District is showing that they can also present a recycling opportunity.  

Thông turns used tyres into user-friendly items including household containers, handbags, waste bins, baskets, basins and mirror frames. These products are not only sold domestically but also exported to even choosy markets such as the US, Denmark, France and Sweden.

After years of working various careers, from chicken and duck raising to lacquer painting, Thông found it hard to make ends meet. He left for Hà Nội to learn how to make shoes in 1994.

Completing three years of training, he returned home to Văn Tiên Village, Yên Tiến Commune to open a shoe-making shop, thinking that he would stick to the job forever.

“However, an unexpected opportunity came, attaching my whole life to rubber and used automobile tyres,” said Thông.

A stranger from a HCM City-based company arrived at the shop and ordered him to make products from rubber fitting samples, including waste bins, wall-hanging mirror frames, buckets and basins.

Thông grabbed the chance and gave it a try without thinking of success in the future.

He received the samples and asked his two sons to chip in.

“At first we bought old automobile tyres and detached structurally connected components. I measured and cut rubber plies into pieces. We designed and manufactured products from the rubber,” he recalled.

“Final touches included painting, drying and fastening products with pins and screws. Some products are further completed with a carrying robe.”

“The initial production looked pretty from outside, but I did not expect much.”

Luckily enough, the items satisfied the customers and were ultimately showcased at an international trade fair. There, they caught the eyes of foreign partners, he said.

“Success is the point where your most authentic talents, passion, values and experiences intersect with the chance to contribute to some greater good,” the author of Making the Impossible Possible Bill Strickland once wrote.

And it is true for Thông.

From a small recycling shop, the business has developed into a 1,300sq.m production area with hundreds of labourers.

The Thông family currently manufactures between 15,000 and 20,000 new rubber products monthly, sometimes even 30,000. They fetch an annual revenue of VNĐ12 billion (US$529,000).

Each kilogramme of waste tyres costs some thousand đồng, but it is priced much more through the talent and determination of the craftsmen.

Pain-staking attention

Rubber recycling itself requires lots of effort and creativity, but the result makes it worth.

“Recycled rubber products are adored because they are made of wasted car tires, which themselves eliminate certain toxin. Moreover, they are durable and useful,” Thông said.

“However, it is painstaking to manufacture the items. The hardest step is to detach components of a tire, whereas rubber plies must be cut by special devices.

“Technique is not enough, as the process also requires experience. Final products must be exactly the same.”

Another difficulty, according to the craftsman, is the input. Thông still follows a traditional method to buy waste tires from auto garages based in the locality. The supply is unstable and sometimes insufficient, he said.

And he is still seeking for supplies from large-scale distributors from other localities to ensure the input for the production. — VNS

 

 

 

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