Garbage for Gold

Garbage for Gold

By Kanda Yaemboonruang and Thiwari Werayasobprasong

The stakes for recycling just got higher as Lucky Trash, Indorama Ventures and AIT launched the first university recycling program ‘Recycle and Win Gold’ to incentivize waste management – with chances of winning real gold!

With studies indicating that each year Thai people spend up to 8.3 billion US Dollars on lottery (!), CEO and co-founder of Trash Lucky, a start-up with a mission to clean up waste from the environment, Mr. Nattapak Atichartakarn, thought it would be more effective to gamify recycling efforts.

“I asked myself, if people have a chance to win gold by recycling, will they do it? Now, it has been almost two years since Trash Lucky started. We have helped over 600 people recycled more than 38 tons of waste and given away gold bullion to 22 lucky winners. I hope the number keeps increasing and we can all help clean up the world,” said Mr. Nattapak.

‘Recycle and Win Gold’ is a project done with communities around Thailand to increase awareness and enthusiasm in waste management. With AIT’s reputation on environmental studies, Trash Lucky and its partner Indorama Ventures – one of the world’s largest chemicals companies, chose to launch its first University Recycling Program with AIT on March 24, 2021. The lively event began with Mr. Nattapak putting on spotlight the issues of plastic waste choking up the ocean, followed by an educational segment informing participants different types of plastic waste and different ways to sort and recycle them effectively. Then came the highlight: the details of how to ‘Recycle and Win Gold’.

“Anyone at AIT can join the program. The first step is to register and receive a member ID via, you can start collecting and sorting waste into categories, such as glass, plastic, paper, milk cartons, and scrap metals. Place each of the category in a bag labeled with your name and member ID, and drop it off in the collection bins located at SV3 courtyard and ST6 staff dormitory. The recyclable items will then be collected by Student Union volunteers. You will earn points for raffle tickets based on the amount you recycle. In July, we will hold the lucky draw with 51 prizes worth over 13,000 THB,” said Mr. Thanapat Jansakoo, AIT Research Associate who is the lead Project Coordinator for this recycling program.

And if gold was not exciting enough, Trash Lucky also gave away upcycled products by Indorama Ventures to students who could answer questions from the recycling workshop Mr. Nattapak had given. The winner of the first prize – an umbrella and a tote bag made from recycled PET bottles, was a student of Water Engineering Management, Mr. Shashwat Sharma, who found the program to have benefits and encourage sustainable practice.

“The Recycle and Win Gold project is an innovative way of encouraging more and more people to recycle and not be hasty with the trash they produce. An initiative like this which motivates people towards adopting sustainable habits as the added personal benefits in the form of economic rewards in conjunction with environmental benefits is lucrative,” said Mr. Sharma.

Equally central to the efforts to encourage 3Rs – Recycle, Reduce and Reuse, in waste management is the partnership with Indorama Ventures. In this light, Mr. Yash Lohia, Chief Sustainability Officer of Indorama Ventures said, “We are willing to work with several industry partners to achieve a circular economy for sustainable plastics and intend to play a leading role by bringing customers of recycled products into the value chain and developing ways to include recyclability in all of our products. This is a major priority for us and is included in our climate change strategy. We all have the same mission to build a sustainable environment for future generation.”

Present at the kick-off of the ‘Recycle and Win Gold’ project were Mr. Russell Rein, AIT Vice President of Administration, and Mr. Wanchai Sophonsakulrat, Director of the Office of Facilities and Assets Management; Professor Dr. Thammarat Koottatep, a Coordinator of the Marine Plastics Abatement Program at AIT; Mr. Nattapak Atichartakarn, CEO & co-founder of Trash Lucky; and the team of Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited. The first phase of the project will run for three months, from April to June 2021. The lucky draw and announcement of the winner will take place in July 2021.

Project Coordinator, Mr. Thanapat, hopes this campaign will be a start of the transformation for AIT to turn into a zero-waste community. However, he also stressed that the success of this project depend would depend on the community itself. Changing human behavior is quite difficult, but, if accomplished, the results can be world changing. “Now, we already have about 20 volunteers in the system. We hope that in the future our volunteers will take the experience they have gained from this activity to start a similar initiative in their hometown,” he added.

For more information on how to participate in the recycling program, please visit or contact Trash Lucky at or via LINE Chat ID @trashlucky.