What price convenience?

Published January 9, 2021, 9:39 PM

by Deedee Siytangco


Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul; and the heart of man knoweth none more fragrant.

Hosea Bellou

A project of the CPFI  reduce plastic waste initiative

The spectacle of an angry, rampaging pro-Trump mob storming and breaching security at the Capitol in Washington D.C. last Thursday was shocking to us non-Americans.

One could say, it’s none of our business, true, but  it was disgusting nonetheless as it involved the outgoing president of a country we dearly look up to as the champion of democracy and freedom. Our forefathers patterned our own constitution and democracy after the US! And now we see the attempted disruption of a democratic process to keep the duly-elected president from taking his rightful position!

One colleague commented, “Edsa People Power? Hindi nila kayo yun! Wala silang madre, pare, at mga Pinoy (They can’t do Edsa People Power. They don’t have the support of priests and nuns and the Filipino People)!”

As of Friday morning, both Houses of the US Congress voted to ratify Joe Biden’s win as US president (and Kamala Harris as his VP). With hope, sobriety is back as Donald Trump has conceded! Quo Vadis?                                                        

All of us would agree that the worldwide pandemic has made us all learn the hard way what it means to lose almost everything we took for granted. The convenience of our routines, as well as interacting with people we know and love, has now become a luxury or, in some cases, unattainable.

With hope, we are now at the tailend of the pandemic and we’ve become accustomed to doing things in the “New Normal,” including becoming reliant on a product that has been both a boon and a curse—plastic. The radical shift in consumption, fueled by the threat of Covid-19, has increased the use of plastic, which is easy to recycle, disinfect, and dispose of. It comes at the cost of our environment, however, in case we neglect to see it.

In 2019, global plastic production was at 368 million metric tons. Production and disposal of plastic use up almost 14 percent of all the world’s oil and gas. A recent study has shown that our country, along with four other countries in Southeast Asia, dispose between 2.5 and five million tons of plastic waste. The Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and China also alarmingly produce half of all plastic waste in the world’s oceans.

 I am glad to hear, however, of an initiative by one of my favorite brands, Century Tuna by Century Pacific Food Inc. (CPFI). It has been very active with its feeding programs, through the Kain PO Foundation, which helped many frontliners and displaced people at the height of the quarantine. I’m very hopeful that its latest undertaking will help mitigate the increased plastic waste that has resulted from our lifestyle shift.

The initiative did not just happen overnight. After many months, perhaps years, of meticulous planning and studying the negative impact of mismanaged waste production to the environment, for this new year, CPFI will embark on full-on plastic neutralization.

With its sister companies in the Century Group of Companies (CPG), Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc. (SPAVI), and Republic Cement Building Materials Inc. (RCBMI), it is now committed to meet its Environment Sustainability and Governance Goals (ESG), particularly to become plastic neutral in one year.

This is the noble goal that challenges CPG in its latest mission, as more Filipino consumers look to multi-billion industries for transparency and credible actions against plastic.

Among the first steps is to take massive action to downgrade the materials used for the packaging of its products that come in stand-up pouches, such as Coco Mama coconut cream, the non-canned variants of Birch Tree, and processed meats, to name a few. Another thing that RCBMI will be implementing is co-processing, a preferred action in the Waste Management Hierarchy for non-biodegradable materials. It is a waste disposal method that is largely being undertaken by the cement sister company in producing cement kiln.

It was shared to us that to produce the kiln, thermal or mineral properties of qualified waste materials are recovered and are broken down via thermal destruction, a robust choice for managing plastic waste from all three companies in the group combined.

As proof of its commitment to sustainability, CPFI, along with its sister companies, has registered  for the Plastic Neutral Certification claim, a global standard from the Plastic Credit Exchange.

It really warms my heart to know that there are companies as huge as CPFI that take sustainability seriously and in a more holistic way that goes above profit and commercial gain.

I also hope that with CPF, by setting this example, will be able to somehow influence its contemporaries in the industry to follow suit, despite cost and competitive pressures. Maintaining quality while carrying out a manufacturer’s responsibility to the environment is doable. It is likely that the switch to supporting sustainability practices may incur cost, but it is a price worth paying because, as citizens of the Earth, we are the creators of our own future.