Major firms commit to help resolve ‘garbage crisis’

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    TOP executives of major companies have committed to support Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s call for collaboration between the government and the private sector to address what he called a “garbage crisis” in Metro Manila.

    In the recent Pilipinas Conference hosted by the Stratbase Group in Bonifacio Global City, leaders from the government, the private sector, and the academe, and environmental advocacy groups pushed for a balanced approach and harmonized solutions to the waste problem.

    “A smarter approach other than the traditional regulatory tools imposing bans or taxes is to focus on instilling discipline for consumers to responsibly dispose of trash in parallel with enabling policies that encourage new innovations for packaging materials and waste management systems,” said professor Dindo Manhit, managing director and CEO of Stratbase Group.

    “Stewardship of the environment should be everybody’s concern. The task to protect and preserve the environment is not just the government’s business, it’s everybody’s business”, Manhit said.

    Winn Everhart, general manager and president of Coca-Cola Philippines, presented the beverage company’s “World Without Waste” global initiative during the conference.

    Under the initiative, the company aims “to collect and recycle every bottle or can sold by 2030.” It also committed to build a P1-billion PET bottle recycling facility — the first in Southeast Asia that would substantially reduce waste leakage in the Mega-Manila area.

    Everhart said Coca-Cola Philippines also teamed up with non-government organizations through the Blastik project, a full circle collection and recycling program in 13 areas — Bataan, Cavite, Albay, Baler, Palawan, Siargao, Davao, Boracay, La Union, Negros Occidental, Marinduque, Sarangani and Metro Manila.

    Unilever Philippines chairman Benjie Yap discussed the company’s “Zero Waste to Nature” program and its “ambitious new commitments to collect and process more than it sells and halve use of virgin plastic.” The initiative commits to produce 100 percent reusable, recyclable and compostable packaging by 2025 and to invest in technical solution to recycle sachets produced by the industry.

    Unilever also presented ongoing environment programs such as the “Misis Walastik” which collects sachet waste in more than 300 communities in Metro Manila; the “Kole Kilo Kita para sa Walastik na Maynila” which incentivizes plastic waste collection under the “May Pera sa Basura” project of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso; and other innovations in sustainable packaging and alternative delivery systems.

    Maynilad president and CEO Ramoncito Fernandez stressed the importance of having sustainability strategies. He said the west zone water concessionaire invested some P40.7 billion in the non-revenue water program where 360,000 leaks were repaired in 2,300 kilometers of old pipes, resulting in the recovery of 700 million liters in the last 12 years.
    Fernandez also discussed the award winning “Sining Ipo” program for the Dumagat Tribe; the “Plant for Life” project wherein 800,000 trees and mangroves were planted in the Ipol Laguna Lake and Malabon Watersheds and Manila Bay coastal area; and the “Daloy Dunong” education program that educates children and parents about environmental protection and water sanitation.