Trip to GNC Recycling Company

On 18 August 2009, 10 Greenpulse members made a trip to GNC Recycle Sdn Bhd – a prominent recycling company in Kota Kinabalu – to learn about proper segregation methods for recycling. This educational trip was to prepare ourselves for a recycling project we have in mind for the coming semester.

Randy Chai, the Director at GNC attended to us

Randy Chai, the Director at GNC attended to us

Here we mainly learned about how to distinguish between the different types of paper and plastic that can be recycled.

For paper there are six types:

1) newspaper

2) black & white paper

This includes white office paper, even those with printed material (provided that it is  black ink only), foolscap paper, art-bloc paper, exercise books (not the cover – which actually belongs to the mixed paper category). For some reason, white paper scribbled with a pen or pencil, regardless of its colour, is also considered black & white paper as long as the scribbling does not exceed 50% of the page.

3) glossy paper

This is the type of paper which has a ‘shine’ on its surface and a smooth texture. Usually higher grade magazines like the Astro magazine, PC Gamer, or Cleo for example.

Cover of a magazine which is glossy

Cover of a magazine which is glossy

Glossy paper inside a magazine

Glossy paper inside a magazine

For such magazines like the one showed in the above photos, the entire magazine is considered glossy.

4) computer paper

Randy, Ju Ping, and computer paper

Randy, Ju Ping, and computer paper.

Notice in the photo above that what distinguishes computer paper from other types of paper is that it has holes on its sides – strips of perforated paper which you can tear off.

remove carbon paper that comes with computer paper

Remove the carbon paper that comes with computer paper

The black (carbon) paper that comes with computer paper should be removed because according to Randy, they are not recyclable – at least in Sabah.

5) mixed paper

Mixed paper, literally.

Mixed paper, like literally. Figure sourced from Olympia School District, 2006. <;

This refers to all forms of recyclable paper – even newspaper and white office paper can be thrown into the mixed paper category, but of course its best if we segregated them into their appropriate categories. Here we’ll focus on those  paper types NOT already mentioned above (newspaper, black & white paper, glossy paper and computer paper). These can be coloured paper such as those used by loan sharks to promote their services, junk mail, (white/brown/any coloured) envelopes with their window plastic sheet removed, paper folder/file, comic books, non-glossy colourful magazines,  Oreo biscuit box, Chips Ahoy! box, toothpaste box  etc. Random Maximum.

6) cardboard box/egg carton

Paper That CANNOT be Recycled

However, there are types of paper that CANNOT be recycled such as: food contaminated paper, waxed paper (the brown chicken rice wrapping with shiny insides), waxed cardboard milk & juice containers, oil soaked paper, carbon paper, sanitary products or tissues, thermal fax paper, stickers and plastic laminated paper such as fast food wrappers, juice boxes, and pet food bags. Paper with any sort of contamination or plastic layers CAN’T be recycled. Plastic laminated paper is bad for recycling plants.

Taking down notes as Randy explained

Taking down notes as Randy explained

For plastics, GNC categorizes them into three types:

Type 1: This includes all types of mineral water bottles as well as most types of soft drink bottles e.g. Coca Cola, Sarsi, Kickapoo, etc. The indicator here is the ‘dot’ at the base of the bottle. Almost all bottles with a ‘dot’ at the base are categorized as Type 1 plastic.

Check out the 'dot'

Check out the 'dot'

Another and more proper way of distinguishing plastic types is by searching for the triangular ‘recycling’ symbol on the bottle or container and look at it closely. A type 1 plastic would have a number ‘1’ within the symbol, and the letters PET or PETE.

"1, PETE" Plastic type indicator symbol. (Taken at the base of a peanut butter container)

"1, PETE". Plastic type indicator symbol. Notice the 'dot' as well. (Taken at the base of a peanut butter container)

Once in a while, you may encounter a bottle with a ‘dot’ but it may not necessarily be a type 1 plastic. With reference to its indicator symbol, it could be a “7” or a “5” instead. Such grades are usually hardly recyclable or not recyclable.  You can tell  from its texture and appearance though that it is not the type 1 plastic characteristic of mineral water or soft drink bottles. Just so you know.

Type 2: Detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, and generally the type of plastic that feels harder. Even the cap of mineral water bottles, they are type 2 plastic. For bottles or containers, the indicator is a ‘line’ across the base (instead of a ‘dot’).

Check out the 'line' characteristic of Type 2 plastic

Check out the 'line' characteristic of Type 2 plastic

If referring to the recycling symbol, type 2 plastic would have a number ‘2’ and the letters HDPE.

"2, HDPE". Indicator symbol for type 2 plastic

"2, HDPE". Indicator symbol for type 2 plastic

Type 3: Plastic bags. The soft, jellyfish-type of plastic bags one uses for shopping and which turtles consume as a finishing snack.

It is very important to note here that this Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 classification for plastics is NOT the complete segregation method for plastic recycling.  It may also differ from recycling methods practiced elsewhere. This method described here is actually a very simplified and general categorization by GNC to make it convenient for people to segregate their plastic waste. Randy said that the recycling technology in Sabah is still very basic and that segregation into Types 1,2, and 3 would suffice for plastics. So to clarify this post, as far as we understand, the segregation method described here may only be applicable in Sabah. Examples of a comprehensive categorization of plastics can be found all over the net.  An example would be this document found online. Its a Microsoft Word document, download and have a look at it. In any case, just stick to Type 1,2,3 as described above if you are in Sabah.

Aside from paper and plastic, GNC Recycling Sdn Bhd. also collects unwanted-but-still-decently-wearable clothing, batteries, aluminium cans, metal scraps, and CDs. It is very unfortunate that there is not even a single glass recycling plant in Sabah – thus glassware here is 100% landfill-bound.

Group photo with Randy Chai at GNC's Recycling Centre

Group photo at GNC's Recycling Centre

Everyone then went home happily.


10 Responses

  1. what a great site and informative posts, I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the informative article. Can you please tell me where GNC Recycle is? It’s a great pity that nobody recycles glass here, imagine all the glass bottles that goes to the landfills.

    • You are most welcome! GNC Recycle is at the following address:

      Lot 18c, Blok F, Jalan Burung Kelero, 5 1/2 mile, Jalan Tuaran, 88807, Kota Kinabalu.

      If you’re on Google Earth it shouldn’t deviate too much from this coordinate: 5o 59′ 38.12″ N 116o 07′ 15.40″ E (note that the letter “o” is used here to represent degree, i.e. 5o represents 5 degrees.

      Their contact information can be found at their website:

      A great pity indeed. Well it is an opportunity right there nonetheless! Anyone capable of starting a glass recycling facility in Sabah will definitely make it big 🙂

      Hope the information helped.

      Thank you and have a pleasant day ahead!

  3. Dear Sirs,

    we have an order of 5×20 FCL containers of oneside printed box boards paper for better convenience kindly see attached pic, please offer your best price CIF by sea Karachi-Pakistan if your prices would be acceptable by our management we will place our order of 1×20 immediately.

    yours sincerely

  4. good evening,may i know the number of the transporter which take our recycle stuff…

  5. Hi, may i ask any recycle center accept used old monitor and printer ?

    • Hello Shell,

      You could check out this website, it has a number of locations where ‘full recovery’ of e-waste is possible.

      If not you could try contacting the supplier of the particular brand of monitor/printer. Some companies may consider taking back their stuff.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Hi everyone,
    Im Isaac…
    Im into glass recycling in Sabah.
    I collect empty beer bottles in cartons (heineken,tiger,carlsberg,guiness…etc), big or small…only usable bottles,no chips or cracks pls…
    Do contact me at if u are interested in saving the earth.


  7. Please come to Jesselton College to collect 12 months of old newspapers. The number is 088 448 344 and we open from 9 am to 5 pm workdays.

    Thank you!

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