Nestlé Philippines and the city government of Valenzuela have signed a memorandum of understanding for the country’s first citywide program to recover post-consumer waste laminates such as sachets and used beverage cartons by sorting and collecting them for co-processing in cement kilns, or for recycling and upcycling.
The MOU for the collaborative program, dubbed “May BALIK! Sa PLASTIK!” together with the Department of Education Division of Valenzuela and Green Antz Builders Inc., was signed by Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon T. Gatchalian, Nestlé Philippines Chairman and CEO Kais Marzouki, DepEd Assistant School Division Superintendent Dr. Benjamin D. Samson, and Green Antz President Rommel Benig.
Under the program, incentives to sustain waste collection will be given to street sweepers and schoolchildren in the form of Nestlé products and school supplies, respectively, for turning in post-consumer waste laminates and UBCs with straws at designated booths in barangays and schools.
Further incentives will be provided to the best-performing barangays and schools. The scheme brings value to waste laminates and UBCs, thereby encouraging the collection of these materials. Training sessions will be conducted for barangays and schools, including teachers and parents, the parties said.
“There is a need to accelerate action on the issue on plastic. For Nestlé, this means addressing post-consumer wastes that would otherwise go to landfills and leak into waterways and oceans,” Marzouki said.
Nestle is piloting the program with Valenzuela “to help strengthen our proof of concept that we can later replicate in other cities,” he added.
“The best thing about it is that the approach involves the participation of various stakeholders. Our partnership with Valenzuela City, one of the most progressive cities in Metro Manila, is a milestone not only for us at Nestlé and Valenzuela City, but more importantly, for the environment,” the Nestle boss said.
Gatchalian said: “My approach has always been not to ban plastics, it’s about recycling, reusing, and repurposing plastics for other things. In our city, we already have a system in place for larger waste plastic materials which are segregated and sold for extra income by our haulers.”
“May BALIK! Sa PLASTIK! gives us a solution for what to do with smaller plastics, laminates, sachets,” the mayor added. “In order to change the culture, you incentivize. This program is meaningful to us because we are going to change the culture. We’re going to teach young people at an early age that there’s value in recycling, reusing and repurposing residual plastic wastes.
“I hope that in the next two or three years, we would have changed a culture -- you segregate because there’s value to it and in the end there’s a return for you, and you don’t have to ban it as long as we properly dispose of or reuse it,” Gatchalian said.
Valenzuela “only partners with the best,” the mayor said, and that’s why when Nestlé came into the picture, “we knew we had an opportunity to harness the strengths of both organizations, and I look forward to a fruitful endeavor. Our goal is zero residual waste after this program.”
“This is a significant program because it will engage our young learners, parents and teachers in a highly productive endeavor that will contribute to nurturing Mother Earth,” Dr. Samson said.
“Our 67 schools and 140,000 public school learners are awaiting the program and as a matter of fact, some of the schools have started collecting already,” he added.
The program, including its training component, will be implemented in city public schools under the DepEd.
May BALIK! Sa PLASTIK! creates an incentive system that will influence people to treat waste as a resource, and thus it becomes a culture, Benig said.
“It’s exciting to see that change because it involves children. Aside from the incentive system, we are educating kids early, and if we do it correctly, we will be developing environmentally responsible Filipinos. We are taking a step towards changing the world,” he added.
Green Antz is an innovative social enterprise supported by Nestlé, which teams up with public and private sector partners, manufactures alternative construction materials such as eco-bricks and eco-pavers using waste plastic laminates.
Green Antz will serve as training partner, main hauler of collected wastes, and recycler under the program, utilizing a portion of the waste materials.
Nestlé has also teamed up with Republic Cement, which will co-process the bulk of wastes.
In April 2018, Nestlé announced a global commitment that 100 percent of its packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2025. Nestlé’s vision is that none of its waste ends up in landfill or as litter.
This vision will be achieved via three focus areas: developing the packaging of the future, helping shape a waste-free future through collection and recycling, and addressing consumer beliefs and behaviors.
“We are aiming for plastic neutrality, which in essence means we will recover plastics equal to what we produce. This cannot be achieved overnight. But the program is one initiative that will help show us the way forward,” Marzouki remarked.
Plastics are today still an important packaging, he noted, “helping us to provide safe and high quality products to a lot of consumers who can only afford one single serve at a time.”
Finding a way to create a circular economy, a circular movement of people finding value in collecting plastics and reusing and repurposing them, is a significant step for Nestle. “I am sure that after all the learning, we can take it to the next level together,” he added.
Valenzuela is a first-class highly urbanized city in Metro Manila, with 33 barangays and a total land area of 4,459 hectares, or 44.59 square kilometers. As of 2015, Valenzuela had a projected population of 616,338, with a population density of 13,822 per square kilometer, making it the 13th most populous city in the country.
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