Got plastic bags and bubble wrap? JuanBag will pick them up to recycle

Published April 21, 2021, 11:13 PM

by John Legaspi

Their bikers will be at your doorstep to collect them for free

Throughout the pandemic, we have discovered the importance of delivery service and e-commerce. They spared us from the dangers of COVID-19 by bringing our needs right to our doorstep. They even saved the holiday gift-giving, and provided us tiny joys and a sort of normalcy that comes from our pre-pandemic time.

But little did we know that the rise of e-commerce and demand for door-to-door deliveries also equates with the increase of waste we produce and acquire. If you’re thinking that being indoors lessens that, then think again.

According to a 2020 report by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, plastics still tops the list of pollutants in Metro Manila. It comes in different forms, from food containers and bottles to the wrappers of our online shopping deliveries.

Giving a solution to the never-ending concern about plastic is JuanBag. The social enterprise calls for your plastic bags, pouches, mailers, and bubble wraps and pick-ups them up for free to be recycled.

“Our solution was inspired by the call of Greenpeace and Youth Strike 4 Climate PH for Shopee and Lazada to Reveal, Reduce, and Redesign their packaging,” Rachelle Lacanlale, founder of JuanBag, tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “JuanBag is redesigning the way we receive our online orders. We are reducing unnecessary and single-use packaging, and promoting a circular economy by upcycling them into  bags.”

Their idea of building circularity started last 2019 with their first start-up, the JuanBox, which focused on take-out containers. According to her, JuanBag officially started early this year. And within months of operating and competing for technical support and grants, the social enterprise became one of the top three finalists on Living Laudato Si’s Sustainability Innovation Pitch. 

“JuanBag is one of the four bigger plans we hope to launch,” Rachelle says. “At the core, we want to promote a circular ecosystem and make Metro Manila a greener city.”

What are we not realizing?

While talks and articles about damage caused by plastic wastes to the environment have been present everywhere, there are still a lot of things people do not understand about the problem. Rachelle highlighted four points they aim to achieve and share with people through JuanBag.


“The burden of proper waste disposal should not be put on the shoulders of consumers,” she says. “For many years, we’ve been twisted and manipulated by this mindset. We have to shift our perspective and look at the source.”

JuanBag is one with the call for big corporations to rethink their business model in terms of packaging. It believes that companies and businesses should work together with organizations who are offering alternative packaging for a collective solution. 

Transparency and greenwashing

“We want people to be educated on numerous schemes of businesses saying their packaging is biodegradable or recyclable but are not,” Rachelle muses. “As consumers, we must start questioning labels of what a packaging claims to be, and its effect on the environment. And the government should start stepping up its policy on these.”

Mindful consumption and conscious consumerism

As a climate advocate and core head at Youth Strike 4 Climate PH, Rachelle believes in the power that comes from our purchases, and wants to help stir it away from throw-away culture. 

“We want to promote mindful consumption where we know where our products are coming from, how it is made, who are the people behind it, and its effect on the environment,” she says. “We know that this culture shift is difficult, but we believe we can do it Juan at a time, starting with our packaging.”

Plastics, renewed

In order to achieve those, JuanBag has partnered with other organizations that will weave them into new packaging materials, which will be launched in May.

“We aim to partner and provide livelihood to vulnerable communities in Metro Manila,” Rachelle says. “Right now, we are in the process of product testing (prototype) and pilot run (no picture can be shared as of the moment). We aim to conduct our pilot run in Makati and Taguig area and offer the bags to sellers selling ‘green’ products.”

“Our bags also have QR Codes for the consumer to know how much carbon emission they have saved and on how many times the bag has been reused,” Rachelle continues. “We are reliving the concept of the ‘deposit system that we used when we bought sodas in sari-sari stores. Once the consumer chooses JuanBag as the packaging they want for their parcel to be in, they receive a rebate or reward once they return it (via our bins or pick up schedule). We then collect the used bags from consumers, sanitize, repair, and send it back to online businesses for reuse.”

JuanBag is encouraging everyone to join and share their thoughts on its “Returnable Packaging” system on survey:

Visit JuanBag on Facebook and Instagram to know how to schedule a pick-up in your area.