My early hint of skepticism gradually melted as my conversation with local inventor Hj Zupri Hj Kamis continued longer than my initial expectations.
He began to convince me that he is a man "who walks the talk" and readily acts on his ideas and inspirations with complete conviction and confidence.
Operating under the Gzup Manufacturing & Trading he founded in 2005, Hj Zupri has achieved several accomplishments with a tight budget, but his perseverance in times of adversity has won him several accolades both locally and internationally.
His company received a big boost last year as it won the coveted funding from the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) thorough the LEAP Grant that amounted to $149,530.
With this financial assistance, Hj Zupri has set his sights on developing a prototype for making environment-friendly plastic bottles. Thinking in terms of environmental conservation, he said the design would help generate reutilisation to delay waste and recycling process. He called his project the 'Gzup Bottling System.'
He explained, the plastic bottles would be designed with a pit at the base which can interlock with each other, just like Lego pieces. He then showed me a sketch of the interlocked bottles giving me a better visual of its concept.
Sensing my quizzical, Hj Zupri explained he is not creating new bottles to adapt to his idea, but rather a reinvention of the plastic bottles, which are made of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The re-usable, environmentally-friendly bottles can be assign to other practical purposes such as the construction of walls or fences, he clarified.
I was impressed as this was a man who was clearly on a mission not only to invent things, but to help save our environment for the sake of the future generation.
With a serious look on his face, he explained the sad state of the environment in many countries is much due to human interacting with nature in the wrong way, with rubbish indiscriminately dumped and this includes plastic bottles strewn in some residential and shopping areas, and in the drains and rivers that could invite an environmental disaster.
"If the bottles were designed in a more pragmatic way, people could use the bottles for other purposes instead of just throwing them away.
"Just to give you an idea, the bottles can be used for fences or other forms of barriers," Hj Zupri explained matter-of-factly.
Interestingly, according to environmental experts, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the nearly indestructible plastic used to make most containers and bottles does not decompose in landfills the same way organic material does.
Wood, grass and food scraps undergo a process known as biodegradation when they are buried, which is a fancy way of saying they are transformed by bacteria in the soil into other useful compounds.
But bacteria turn up their noses at plastic. Load their dinner plates with some plastic bags and bottles, and the one-celled gluttons will skip the meal entirely. Based on this logic, it's safe to argue that plastic will never biodegrade.
And Hj Zupri's new design in bottles could change how people can interact in an even friendlier way with nature.
With the LEAP Grant awarded to him, he has his eyes set on purchasing an equipment from China that can produce the bottles with the desired dimensions, but it is not cheap.
He has been to China a few times, talking to the factory people there on how he wants his machine to be set up. After discussions with them, the delivery of the machine should ensue, he said.
Thinking ahead, Hj Zupri is inspired to be a supplier of these bottles to beverage companies locally and internationally. It can be a daunting challenge as he has to apply for varying patents in different countries, since a particular patent has to be applied for his bottle invention.
His company also received commendable response from many universities and educational institutions when they participated in an expo in Malaysia.
"Previously I received a 'Golden Award' for my invention named 'GZUP-B-SHINE' at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. It is essentially a bronze and brass stain remover. It was totally unexpected and it really inspired me to invent," he pointed out.
When he revealed his designed bottle concept, many were impressed at the expo.
He also won top honours at the 2011 Crown Prince Creative, Innovative Product and Technological Advancement (Cipta) competition in the 'Modifying Existing Product, Process or Technology' category. At the showcase, he won the hearts of the judges when he showed how the bottles could be use to build various structures like columns and fences by incorporating a bottle pit to connect to other bottles.
Currently, he is also developing an anti-theft gadget vest that secures your valuables during travel. He said wallets, purses or other items that are of value to the owner can be safely placed in the vest.
The vest is especially useful in crowded places and you can have peace of mind with the knowledge your valuables are securely locked, he explained.
He stressed that BEDB has played a pivotal role in his success so far. With advisory and seminars organised by BEBD, Hj Zupri has gained confidence on how to manage his company and is inspired to achieve more in terms of practical inventions that lean more towards conserving the environment.
With his forward-thinking and BEDB's powerful resources, it has the potential to be a partnership that typifies innovation and creativity.
PROFILE OF INVENTOR
COMPANY NAME: Gzup Manufacturing & Trading
ENTREPRENEUR/FOUNDER: Hj Zupri Hj Kamis
Gzup Bottling System - Prototype to produce a revolutionary pit design to be placed at the bottom of the bottle for the purpose of simultaneous connection in vertical arrangement. Additionally, this design will encourage re-utilisation to delay waste and recycling process.
FUNDING: Received BEDB funding from LEAP Gr