MANILA, Philippines—The novel coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) has unleashed not only a public well being disaster, but in addition a plastic waste pandemic.
As lockdowns compelled tens of millions of individuals to keep dwelling, a deluge of plastic merchandise went previous proper beneath our noses, pushed by that button on online buying websites that claims “add to cart.”
As the lockdowns emptied mall shops of staff and prospects, the rise in online buying broke data, opening the doorways to hundreds of deliveries. The use of protecting gear made from plastic, like face shields, additionally went up the roof.
The shift in buying habits spurred by the pandemic grew to become a wake-up name for many individuals on the disastrous influence of large plastic use and a dearth in protected methods to eliminate used plastics.
One of those people was Rachelle Lacanlale, who discovered the pileup of discarded plastics to be so irritating however concurrently a possibility to take motion.
Frustration spurs motion
Lacanlale took her frustration a step additional and used it as inspiration to begin a undertaking on upcycling. While recycling converts plastic wastes into new plastic to be used for a similar or one other objective, upcycling makes use of those wastes on merchandise which can be enhancements of their earlier kinds.
Lacanlale began an initiative that she calls JuanBag that upcycles plastics into baggage.
She informed INQUIRER.internet that the undertaking began when the pandemic hit and online buying peaked like by no means earlier than in 2020.
JuanBag is a start-up and social enterprise that makes use of post-consumer plastic, like courier pouches and bubble wraps utilized in online buying deliveries, to promote a sustainable approach of utilizing plastics by turning these into reusable baggage.
Its bikers have been choosing up plastic baggage from households throughout Metro Manila freed from cost prior to now few months, with a minimum of 30 kilograms of plastic donated and extra plastics for pickup but to be collected.
“In JuanBag, we want to make a bag out of plastics,” stated Lacanlale.
“Our goal is to use that as an alternative for the packaging for couriers. What if we just have one type of bag?,” she stated. “We’re designing it in a way that there’s only ‘Juan,’ as in one bag for all your online shopping.”
Plastic packaging accounts for practically half of all plastic waste globally and is normally thrown away inside minutes after use, a 2018 United Nations Environment Program examine stated.
Shift in habits
And that is precisely what JuanBag desires to change—shopper habits in the direction of plastic.
Instead of disposing of courier pouches after one use, Lacanlale stated her initiative hoped to have the baggage reused utilizing the identical system as sari-sari retailer house owners require a deposit to guarantee prospects would return empty soda bottles. There would even be a fast response (QR) code within the baggage that will inform the buyer what number of plastics the bag was made from and what number of occasions it has been reused.
“It’s a culture shift. We’re thinking what would happen with the bag. We’re hoping a lot will return it,” Lacanlale stated.
JuanBag continues to be within the technique of designing and creating the bag itself. By the tip of June, Lacanlale stated she intends to take a look at it out there by companion online outlets promoting dwelling decor, magnificence merchandise and devices.
Trash to treasure
More usually than not, folks don’t understand the excessive worth of plastic—one thing that Cloop Technologies knew could be dependable in creating livelihood alternatives for low-income communities.
Cloop, brief for “closing the loop,” can also be a social enterprise that upcycles plastic waste into sellable objects like pots, trays and different objects.
“What we do is we upcycle plastic by converting it into something with higher value,” stated Ric Alindayu, Cloop CEO.
“To do that, we use melting machines that can melt the plastic down and then shape it into different products,” Alindayu stated.
The thought was born someday in 2019 as a part of a pupil undertaking, then referred to as “Project Plastikan,” on the University of the Philippines-Diliman which received the nation’s first ever Climathon hosted by Pasig City.
Cloop has since partnered with the town’s Barangay Pineda that lately constructed a supplies restoration facility, the place waste is collected and segregated.
“We are working together on establishing a product line so that the plastic waste that is generated by the community can be converted into something of higher value and can be eventually sold,” Alindayu stated.
It takes a village to cut back air pollution
Alindayu’s staff has labored carefully with Barangay Pineda’s residents by offering coaching—offline and online—on safely utilizing machines for melting plastics, working towards well being protocols whereas doing that and making objects made from melted plastics.
“At first, they really had no idea. This is a technology push,” Alindayu stated. “But they were very open to the training. They were really participative in our workshops, they also generated ideas on products to make. They were very involved in the process, not just in the receiving but also in the giving.”
In Cloop, Alindayu stated merchandise generally known as thermoplastics are made. These are plastics that soften and harden upon cooling.
“That would be HDPE or High Density Polyethylene; LDPE or Low Density Polyethylene and polypropylene,” Alindayu stated.
“They’re quite common. You can find them in shampoo bottles, you can find them in bottle caps, condiment bottles, bleach bottles, food containers, etc.,” Alindayu added.
The consumption of plastics at present follows a linear sample. The product is purchased, used, wears out and disposed of. What occurs after these had been thrown away hardly enters the equation.
So a lot plastic waste both leads to a landfill or in our oceans. According to a World Wide Fund report printed in 2020, a mean of eight million tons of plastics enter oceans yearly. While it’s a international downside, research present the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam contribute 60 p.c of the marine plastic particles coming into the ocean.
What can I do?
For JuanBag’s Lacanlale, doing a “Marie Kondo” (a decluttering guru made well-known in Netflix) on her room made her evaluate her plastic-reliant way of life.
“I did a Marie Kondo in my life, in my room,” she stated. “And then I asked a question: What will happen to all of these things that I’m about to throw away? That’s the curiosity I had.”
Since then, Lacanlale had joined environmental organizations and taught herself how to turn out to be a “mindful consumer.” But as a result of it was handy to use plastics, she admitted it was exhausting to persuade associates and even her household to be part of the habits shift.
“We’re after convenience. There’s the sense of ‘it’s not gonna affect me anyway’,” she stated.
But extra than simply adopting a zero-waste way of life, Lacanlalae stated she realized that her efforts alone should not sufficient so she joined campaigns and signed petitions calling on huge firms and the federal government to take motion on plastic air pollution.
In a 2019 report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, it was revealed that Filipinos have been utilizing 164 million sachets, 57 million buying baggage, and 45.2 million thin-film baggage each day.
Filipinos’ proper to a wholesome setting had been enshrined in Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2020, which is taken into account a landmark regulation on waste administration within the Philippines.
But the laws appeared to be not sufficient, stated Cloop’s Alindayu. He stated he believed the issue lies in implementation.
“It’s a landmark law that’s recognized internationally,” he stated.
“But the only problem maybe is the lack of strict enforcement,” Alindayu stated.
“If our officials would properly enforce proper collection and segregation of waste, if there’s a strict ‘no segregation, no collection’ policy, that would really help a lot for initiatives like Cloop,” he stated.
For now, Alindayu suggested the general public to correctly segregate plastic waste by recycling indicators and the quantity inside.
“Bottle caps are number two. When you see number two, it’s HDPE, it’s easily recycled, you can set it aside,” Alindayu stated.
“If you see number four, that’s LDPE, these are the bags that Shopee and Lazada use and are easily recyclable, set it aside,” he stated.
“Number five, that’s polypropylene: food containers, shampoo bottle caps. It’s recyclable so set it aside,” Alindayu stated.
“The best way an average person can contribute is to properly segregate and set aside the plastic waste and donate it to social enterprises and businesses that properly recycle it,” he stated.
“There are a lot of opportunities to do so and it starts really with proper collection and segregation.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get entry to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & different 70+ titles, share up to 5 devices, pay attention to the information, obtain as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.