By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Food and beverage giant Nestlé Philippines, once tagged as one of the worst polluters of Manila Bay, has moved to increase efforts to contain the amount of plastic waste that come from its products, tapping Republic Cement and Building Materials, Inc. for the co-processing of post-consumer plastic waste.
A statement showed that Nestlé Philippines and Republic Cement have entered into an agreement to co-process post-consumer plastic waste in the cement kilns of the CRH-Aboitiz company.
Republic Cement is duly licensed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to use and dispose of qualified waste streams through cement kiln co-processing.
Cement kiln co-processing is the process used to create cement. It takes raw materials such as calcium carbonate and silica and feeds them into a kiln along with fuel.
The materials are burned to such a high temperature that any complex material is broken into simpler compounds. The end result of the process is cement, and any emissions form the process are filtered and monitored by the minute to abide by local DENR standards.
Co-processing is an alternative waste management solution that can use waste as fuel. In the Philippines, while landfilling and physical treatment are more common, co-processing is more advantageous given that energy and minerals coming from waste are almost completely utilized.
Republic Cement is backed by the global expertise of CRH, a leading building materials company with main headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and Aboitiz Group, a listed diversified Filipino business conglomerate.
The company has five cement plants and one grinding station in the Philippines, and more than 60 years cement manufacturing experience.
Nestlé Philippines Chairman and CEO Kais Marzouki said the deal with Republic Cement is strategic as the company now aims for “plastic neutrality,” which is essentially recovering plastics equal to what the company produces.
“Aside from our current collection and recycling initiatives, we believe this effort will help us gather and co-process bigger volumes of post-consumer waste,” Marzouki said.
“We target to divert more post-consumer waste from landfills and the ocean. This partnership will contribute positively in helping clean-up the Philippines,” he added.
For his part, Republic Cement President Renato Sunico said there’s still a lack of knowledge on the importance of co-processing in waste management.
“We look forward to helping address the issue of post-consumer waste and look forward to the successful implementation of this project,” Sunico said.
Last year, Nestlé S.A, Procter & Gamble Co., and Unilever Philippines Limited were some of the companies Senator Cynthia Villar special mentioned when she discussed the worsening garbage problem in the country.
Before that, international environmental group Greenpeace also tagged Nestlé as one of the worst polluters of Manila Bay. This, after the group recovered 54,200 pieces of plastic waste from Manila Bay, including 9,000 Nestlé products, during a clean-up drive.
Now, Villar particularly wants to amend the Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act particularly “for the manufacturers and producers of plastic products to be more responsible for the waste they are producing.”
“I’m pushing to amend RA 9003. It has to be amended and reviewed after 17 years and modernize some of its provisions,” Villar said.
“The country’s problem on plastic waste is alarming. We are the third biggest producer of plastic and it endangers our food security because if fishes accidentally ate them, they will die,” she added.
Villar said she’s looking to amend the law in a way that there should be “extended producers responsibility.” Through that, if a company produced a product, then it’s also its responsibility to retrieve the waste.
In April last year, Nestlé globally announced a commitment that 100 percent of its packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2025. The company’s vision is that none of its waste ends up in landfill or as litter.
Nestlé has initiated and is driving waste collection efforts with various partners. A portion of the wastes collected go to recycling and upcycling programs producing construction materials such as eco-bricks and eco-pavers, as well as school chairs.
“Taking action on plastic waste is a big challenge. We are on a journey, exploring possible avenues in our defined focus areas, applying our learnings, looking to build on successes along the way,” Marzouki further said.
“And in all this, it is important for different sectors to work together,” he added. (MBM)