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Finding hope in waste

By LAI S. REYES, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 25, 2021 5:55 am

As we start to look beyond the pandemic, we can’t help but think about the positive changes that happened in our lives because of the coronavirus.

For one, most Filipinos have turned to their backyards or available shelf space to grow their own produce since prices of goods such as meat, vegetables and other food products went up. Add to that the fear of contracting the dreaded virus at crowded conventional marketplaces.

And since mass transportation has been shut down, an increasing number of people have turned to biking and walking. The shift has brought some visible changes: local air population has significantly dropped, and cities that used to be covered with smog are experiencing their first blue skies in a long time.

We can’t also deny the fact that kindness towards others and love for the environment spread like wildfire. This is evident in the rise of community pantries and soup kitchens. Some are even demonstrating sustainable habits — like switching to reusable face masks, minimizing the use of single-use plastics, etc. — not just in the homes but workplaces as well. Even major companies are accelerating sustainable practices and enabling responsible consumer habits.

Impossible is nothing

At P&G, environmental sustainability is a real business strategy and priority.

“It’s not a nice-to-have. It’s actually a must-have,” stresses Raffy Fajardo, P&G Philippines President and General Manager.

The company and its employees have embraced the mission to make responsible consumption possible as part of daily life through interventions across its brand innovations, supply chain operations, employees, and trusted partnerships that impact society.

“As a result, P&G, will be able to make a meaningful impact in the environmental areas of Climate, Water and Waste,” Fajardo enthuses.

In the area of Waste, 100-percent of P&G plants globally, including its Philippines Cabuyao plant, are sending zero manufacturing waste to landfill.

Beyond this, P&G wants to contribute to reducing post-consumer waste and enabling responsible consumer habits.

“Our latest Herbal Essences bio: renew bottles now use 25% post-consumer resin or recycled plastic. Another packaging change was our Safeguard multi-packs, where we eliminated the plastic overwrap packaging and are now using 100-percent recycled paper carton material instead,” shares Fajardo.

The change saves 8,500 kilometers worth of what would have become plastic waste every year, equivalent to roughly 1,000 times the length of the Boracay shoreline.

To further create holistic and long-term solutions for waste in the country, P&G collaborates with the government, the industry, organizations, its employees and consumers to practice responsible consumption.

There’s hope in waste

In 2019, just before the pandemic hit, P&G partnered with World Vision for the program Pag-asa sa Basura.

In the first year of the program (2019 to 2020), the program recovered over 3.2 million pieces of plastic sachets and over 870,000 plastic bottles. This sustainability initiative is part of P&G’s commitment to help boost plastic waste recovery and circular solutions in the country.

With the strong support of the DepEd, the P&G and World Vision Pag-asa sa Basura program established links between schools and their respective materials recovery facilities (MRF) to systematize recovery and collection, segregation, recycling, and upcycling efforts. The program rehabilitated the MRFs and distributed collection bins to aid plastic collection and segregation. In return, students also received incentives such as school supplies and gift tokens for collecting plastic waste and turning these over to the MRF for eventual upcycling. They could have recovered more if only COVID didn’t happen.

“These millions of used sachets that could have ended up in landfills or as marine litter have been successfully upcycled to school chairs with safety dividers,” shares Fajardo.

After year-round collection, P&G and World Vision donated back 1,040 upcycled plastic school chairs to participating public schools last September.

P&G is now also doubling this by donating another 1,040 chairs in time for August.

Even after the culmination of the first year of the pilot program, the participating schools continued the habit of plastic waste collection in their communities and utilized their school facilities as plastic collection points, proving that it is possible to integrate sustainable habits in our daily lives.

The upcycled chairs are now being used by teachers and parents during pick-up and submission of modules since the schools transitioned to blended learning and will be even more useful when schools gradually resume face-to-face learning.

Waste not

Integrating sustainable habits in our daily lives is the perfect example of taking care of each other and the planet — pre- or post-pandemic.

“Let’s first Refuse or avoid generating waste at home or in the office,” Fajardo adds. “Then let’s follow the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”

Besides, plastic waste is only considered waste if you throw it away.  A solution is to find another use for it.  Just like what P&G Philippines is doing.

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Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like P&G.