A call to action to address the plastic situation
Recently, a graphic showing that the Philippines is the purported biggest ocean polluter has been circulated in social media. Whether this is true or not; data-based or not, one thing is certain, there is a PROBLEM and something needs to be done collectively in order to create an impact.
Admittedly, food manufacturers, such as Alaska Milk Corp. (AMC), utilize plastics which are necessary in order to thrive in what is dubbed as a “sachet economy.” In the absence of any viable alternative, the sad reality is—the use of plastics will persist in order to be able to provide affordable nutrition to the consumers. However, AMC recognizes its correlated obligation in detracting the perils caused by these plastics to the environment.
AMC’s AlasKalikasan (Alaska + kalikasan/nature) is its umbrella term for the company’s initiatives to offset its plastic footprints. Since 2019, AMC has been partnering with big local government units (LGU) in joint wrapper redemption programs. LGUs redeem single-use plastics (SUPs) straight from the communities, while AMC provides kilos of milk in exchange for SUPs. LGUs, on the other hand, partner with recyclers and upcyclers. This is a two-pronged approach which encourages both a sense of responsibility toward protecting the environment, as well as promotes nutritional awareness within the community. Through these partnerships, AMC has neutralized almost 450 metric tons of SUPs it has generated in the market.
In 2022, AMC has also invested in a technology that converts SUPs into WoW boards. It has partnered with D&G Pacific Corp. to establish a multilayered plastic upcycling facility to help minimize pollution caused by SUPs catalytically. The five-hectare facility, situated at the heart of Antipolo City, Rizal, is estimated to have the capability and capacity to upcycle 900 MT of SUPs yearly. These plastics are processed into WoW boards, which are similar to plyboards and phenolic boards but are eight times more reusable. These panels are completely recycled and do not use chemicals or additives during manufacturing, ensuring that the product is recyclable, termite-proof, and water-resistant, which can be used in furniture production or as a construction material.
To complement the above initiatives and widen its reach, AMC, likewise, partners with Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX), which has its own redemption, recycling, and upcycling programs. Through this partnership, an estimate of almost 800 MT of SUPs were recycled and upcycled last year. Through the above initiatives, AMC has been certified as a net-zero plastic waste brand in 2022 by PCX for neutralizing 100 percent plastics generated and released to the market in the preceding year.
With the recent enactment and implementation of Republic Act No. 11898 or the Extended Producer Responsibility Act of 2022, companies are held responsible for the plastic packaging they use throughout the lifecycle of their products and need to demonstrate recovery and diversion of 20 percent of their 2023 plastic packaging footprint; 40 percent by 2024, with 10 percent annual increase up to 80 percent by 2028 and onwards. Therefore, it is imperative that equally responsible companies adopt similar initiatives to address the surmounting problem of SUPs.
On top of these and as part of its overall commitment to sustainability, AMC also commits to reduce its carbon emission by putting up 15,000 solar panels on its rooftops, with each module having a capacity of 400 watts at peak hours. It is expected to achieve 8.2 million kilowatt-hour of power per year. This is equivalent to around 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission. Moreover, AMC has also partnered with Isla LPG Corp. to switch from low sulfur fuel oil to a cleaner liquefied petroleum gas. This will reduce around 2,700 tons of CO2 emission per year.
This is a call for other companies to adopt and share best practices, and inspire others to join this collective action to undertake positive measures needed to protect our environment. Makati Business Club, through their partnership with the Netherlands Embassy, is one organization that can facilitate public-private partnerships to help solve our country’s plastic waste problem. Small steps when taken together cast a bigger shadow.
Maria Angela Esquivel is legal, corporate affairs, and sustainability lead of AMC, an operating company of Royal FrieslandCampina. You may contact her at [email protected]
Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club ([email protected]).
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