‘Uncapping’ the story of Lebuh Victoria bottle recycler


HOW many of us know that glass bottle recyclers still exist in Penang? Most likely not many are aware of the existence of such operators.


“Those days there were people going around collecting bottles in the neighbourhood but now we do not see them anymore,’’ K. Paramasiwam told Buletin Mutiara team in a recent interview at his storehouse.


The 66-year-old bottle recycler possesses a quiet personality but is also as tough as nails at work. When sharing the insights of his business, Paramasiwam expressed doubts that there would be any takers to continue his legacy.


According to Paramasivam, his shop was established way back in 1926 by his relatives and he only took over the business in 2013 after his retirement at the age of 55.


“In the 70’s after I had finished my schooling, I worked in the scrap business for about two to three years before securing a job in a factory.


“Over there, I was a production operator before going on to become a production manager. I was attached to the factory for 34 years.


“Then upon my retirement, I decided to venture into this business. I wanted to generate an income since my children were still studying, ” he said.

Paramsivam meticulously sorting the bottles


Paramasivam said he got 90 percent of his bottle supplies from Thailand as only a handful of local people send their used bottles to his shop.


“Most of the locals do not know that there are bottle collectors like me. Only those who are nearby come and trade their bottles.


“Previously, there used to be five other shops doing this business but due to the significant drop of bottle supplies, they had closed down.


“The increase in the usage of plastic bottles is also another contributing factor. Fortunately, I have some good friends in this field who help me get my supplies,” he added.

Imported glass bottle supplies from Thailand packed in gunny sacks

Paramasiwam, who knows how to sort out the bottles like the back of his hand, said he is the only person handling the business.


“I single-handedly operate the business. With the income that I am generating, it would be difficult for me to hire extra hands.


“The price for the bottles traded depends on the size and demand. It ranges from three cents to 15 cents.


“I will send the traded bottles for a cleaning process after which I will send them to their manufacturers, such as the chili sauce and liquor manufacturers,” said Paramasivam.

Front view of Paramasivam’s shop which is situated at the Victoria Street

Paramasivam said he would hand over the business to anyone interested in continuing the legacy.


“If there is no one, then I will be the ‘last man standing’,” he added.


Paramasivam’s shop, called TMI Traders, which lies inconspicuously in Victoria Street, is open daily from 10am to 6pm except on Sundays.


Those who would like to send their used bottles can visit the shop at 101-159, Lebuh Victoria, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang (Google map location code: C86P+XW George Town, Penang).


Story by Tanushalini Moroter
Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud