About 1,056,000 kilos of plastic wastes have been collected and turned into armchairs in the plastic recycling program spearheaded by Senator Cynthia Villar.
Established in Barangay Ilaya, Las Piñas City in March2013, the first Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG) Waste Plastic Recycling Factory has provided livelihood while giving solutions to the country’s problem on solid waste management and the lack of chairs in public schools.
Two other plastic factories were built in San Miguel, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro City in 2017 while more than 52,800 chairs have been donated for free to public schools, learning sites and government and non-government associations all over the country. The capacity of Las Piñas plastic factories was also increased to 600 chairs per month.
“In turning plastic wastes into useful furniture like school chairs, we are not only reducing the amount of plastic garbage that goes into our water resources, which harms the environment. We are also able to provide livelihood sources to the poor, because the jobless, the non-skilled and even the physically disabled are employed by the factories,” Villar said.
When it was inaugurated, the Php 6-million Las Piñas plant was only the second of its kind.
About 20 kilos of mixed “soft plastics”—such as food wrappers—are needed to make a chair, which can be fashioned to look like wooden pieces and comes with replaceable parts.
Workers from the community are employed to collect and segregate the plastic wastes, which are then shredded, washed, dried, melted and molded in the plant.
Contaminants found in the raw materials are removed in the process. Tests show that armchairs had low levels of lead (42 parts per million) and no traces of mercury.
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, emphasized that environmental protection, particularly proper waste disposal and handling and recycling, is very important with or without a pandemic.
“We continue to generate waste even if we are under quarantine. If disposed improperly, waste will overwhelm our landfills and will clog our drainage. This will cause flooding and contribute to the spread of diseases,” she said.
With a capacity to produce 300 chairs a month, the first plastic factory in Las Piñas has manufactured more than 10,800 plastic chairs in 3 years and increased its capacity at 600 chairs per month in 2017 of which are already donated to public schools in Benguet, Apayao, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Cagayan Valley, Compostela Valley, Nueva Vizcaya, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga, Aurora, Tarlac, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, and Masbate.
It also donated to public schools in the National Capital Region; namely, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig and Valenzuela.
Also in partnership with former Vice President Noli De Castro’s Kabayan Special Patrol, 1,182 school chairs were distributed to far flung areas and indigenous communities. Farm schools, TESDA learning centers, private companies, non-government organizations, and civic groups in Luzon are also beneficiaries of the program. We also donated chairs to Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Leyte and Northern Samar.
Villar has sounded the alarm on the country’s worsening problem on plastic wastes. Citing a study from the University of Georgia, the Philippines is the Top 3 largest producer of plastic waste leaking into the ocean, next to China and Indonesia.
She authored Senate Bill No. 1331 or the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2020 which seeks to institutionalize the practice of EPR in waste management. It also amends the 20-year-old Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
“This measure makes sure that the responsibility for the entire lifecycle of plastic products rests on the manufacturers. It will mandate manufacturers to recover plastic wastes from their products as a mechanism towards achieving an efficient solid waste management,” Villar said.
The Nacionalista Party senator also authored Senate Bill 333 or the Single-Use Plastic Product Regulation Act, which seeks to regulate the manufacturing, importation and single-use of plastic products.
“We should encourage Filipinos to be responsible stewards of the environment. There should be a shared responsibility among us when it comes to waste management. There is no exception because we all generate wastes,” said Villar.