By Zea Capistrano
DAVAO CITY – It’s like hitting two birds with one stone after Winchester Lemen thought of producing foot baths and hand sanitizer dispensers with discarded single-use plastics like water bottles and food packaging.
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Lemen said he had been collecting and recycling single-use plastics for 20 years, trying to turn them into other different products that could be used in daily life. But it was during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that he found two new products so that the plastics he has been collecting could be re-used.
A mechanical engineering graduate, who got his degree at the Mapua Institute of Technology while playing for its varsity basketball team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Lemen found it easy to turn the discarded plastics into the foot baths and sanitizer dispensers that are now in-demand.
“I wanted to produce recycled foot baths to send the message that we can win this battle not only by eliminating the transfer of virus through footwear before entering our residence but also by saving the environment,” said Lemen, who has put up Winderful Foot Bath, and is one of the owners of Winder Recycling Company.
According to him, the foot bath and the newly launched foot-operated sanitizer dispenser are all made of laminated plastics, junk food packaging, candy wrappers, sando bags, plastic cups, water bottles, and other plastics that are often just left piling up in the landfill.
To produce one foot bath, the recycling company uses about eight kilograms of recycled single-use plastics.
Lemen said they produce 40 to 50 pieces of foot baths, which roughly amounts to a minimum of 320 to 400 kilograms of single-use plastics recycled every day.
To produce these, the plastics are shred into flakes, which are later washed, dried and melted to form molten plastic. The molten plastic is then poured into molds in the shape of the footbath.
“The cost of the footbath is P600 in Mindanao, since our main plant is located in Mindanao, and P1,000 for Visayas and Luzon,” Lemen said.
Currently, the company has produced 600 sets of footbaths which amounts to over five tons of single-use plastic wastes recycled.
Compared with other foot baths available in the market, Lemen said the Winder Foot Baths are sturdier because it is thicker at ¾ inch.
Meanwhile, a foot-operated dispenser uses 15 kilograms of plastic waste, and costs P2,000 each.
“Now that businesses use footbaths and sanitizer dispensers as part of their protocols to control the spread of the coronavirus, the demand for footbaths is already there. But Winderful Footbaths appears to have an appeal to customers who are eco-friendly and would like to contribute to the solution to plastic pollution,” Lemen said.