The Philippines’ San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is tapping a Filipino invention of plastic woven packaging as it shifts to biodegradable packaging for its products.
The move is a Philippine business milestone as SMC is the first Filipino company to adopt biodegradable plastics that are fully certified by the Department of Science and Technology. The plastic packaging has been verified to degrade by 64.65 percent in 24 months as compared to non-biodegradable plastics (4.5 percent in 24 months).
SMC will first use the plastic for food and non-food products, such as cement and feed sacks, grocery bags and food, and another single-use plastic packaging.
“Initially, we will use it for cement packaging. What we will use is a biodegradable plastic woven packaging or sack. This is proudly developed by Filipino inventors, using local materials, and made by local workers,” SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said in a statement.
The Filipino multinational company revealed it had been developing and testing the technology for the last five years working with Philippine Bioresins Corporation, a small but innovative company that has successfully developed and tested biodegradable plastics recently certified by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Industrial Technology Development Institute.
“We have always been looking for innovative environmental technologies, and we are excited about this development. We are looking forward to using biodegradable plastics, and this is just the beginning, as they are developing other technologies in this field,” Ang added.
Ang noted that the country’s stature as the world’s third-largest plastic polluter to global waters should be enough motivation for people and companies to try and find ways how to lessen their impact on the environment.
In addition to using biodegradable cement bags, the company’s cement business also currently buys plastic water bottles and bags, for use as fuels for its cement plants. It also uses discarded rubber tires and industrial sewage waste as secondary fuel for its cement plants.
“This is another way that we are helping turn plastic wastes that would have otherwise ended up in landfills or bodies of water, into useful and much-needed products—in this case, cement, which is used to construct buildings and infrastructure.”
“We are very serious when it comes to sustainability. We have stopped our plastic bottled water business; we have taken on the challenge to reduce group-wide non-product water use by 50% by 2025, and we’ve poured more resources into major projects to clean up bodies of water as well as into research that supports plastic waste reduction.”
Last March, San Miguel started collaborating with leading materials science company Dow Chemical to study using hard-to-recycle plastics as an alternative raw material for road surfacing, in order to reduce the volume of scrap plastics that end up in the landfills.
Earlier this year, SMC announced a partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to clean up and revive the Tullahan River as part of efforts to rehabilitate the Manila Bay. It will be spending Php1 billion for the endeavor. It has also proposed a 1.2-kilometer bridge that will link Boracay to the mainland of Aklan to address water, sewage and solid waste management as well as decongest the island.
The shift to biodegradable plastics will be the newest addition to San Miguel’s sustainable business models, which include the zero-waste returnable glass bottle system, and manufacturing processes following circular economy principles–where by-products are re-used to create other products.
San Miguel Corporation is the Top 2 Filipino company in the Forbes Best Over a Billion Asia Pacific 2019 ranking.
San Miguel Corporation and the City of Manila also recently set up the “Better World Tondo”, a unique learning facility and food bank for the poor of Tondo in Manila.
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