‘Bayang Walang Basura’: A community working towards a world without waste

Published June 25, 2021, 12:49 PM

by Jonnah Lynne Pante

Coca-Cola, PRRM continues to educate and raise awareness in barangays

The Philippines continues to face a problem with waste. According to a recent study of World Bank, the country is the third-largest contributor of plastic that ends up in the ocean. Understanding its role in the global effort to combat plastic waste and staying true to its commitment to be a part of the solution, Coca-Cola, through the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, has partnered with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) to raise awareness about proper recycling at the barangay level in order to achieve a world without waste.

The initiative of Coca-Cola and PRRM aims to involve community enterprises that will reuse, recycle, or upcycle used plastic PET bottles across several communities in Bataan, Cavite, Albay, Marinduque, Davao, Nueva Ecija, and North Cotabato. This initiative has also benefited over 850 individuals including waste pickers and junk shop workers.

Called the “Bayang Walang Basura” Project, the program is part of the continuous efforts of Coca-Cola to achieve a world without waste and help collect and recycle the equivalent of all the bottles and cans it sells by 2030.

Empowering environmental stewardship in Philippine communities

Among the beneficiaries of this initiative is 43-year-old Elmar Grapani, a waste collector in Barangay Silangan I in Rosario, Cavite. As a member of Lingkod Bayan, a group of waste collectors and street sweepers in their municipality, Grapani takes pride in his substantial role in keeping the cleanliness of their community.

Elmar Grapani, a Lingkod Bayan member, is just one of the many beneficiaries of the partnership between Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement. Aside from empowering them as environmental stewards in the community, the waste collectors were also given livelihood and training support for sustainability.

Grapani, an eco-aide since 2007, said that he’s happy to witness their community learning the ropes of proper recycling and waste segregation and how this helps reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans and the environment while providing additional income to communities.

“Proud na proud po sila sa amin. Ang dami pong nagpapasalamat sa amin dito dahil hindi na nagbabara ang mga kanal. Malaking tulong po sa barangay namin ‘yun,” Grapani said. “Karamihan po dito sa amin ay natuto na rin mag-recycle. Kung hindi nila nire-recycle, kami na po sa Lingkod Bayan ang gumagawa,” said Grapani. 

To help Grapani in his job, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and PRRM equipped him with a sidecar eco-bike that he’s been using since 2018 to collect solid wastes in 12 barangays in Rosario every day from 10 in the morning until the evening. Through the assistance and trainings provided by this partnership, Grapani and his colleagues were able to have a sustainable livelihood that provides for their families’ daily needs even during the pandemic.

Grapani and the hundreds of partner waste pickers of the Bayang Walang Basura project have collected 47,500 kilograms of plastics from March 2019 to March 2021. All in all, the first phase of Bayang Walang Basura in Cavite amassed 52,381 kilos of plastic waste collected by eco aides and from coastal cleanups and participating schools.

Rebuilding lives through sustainability

As part of its global vision of a World Without Waste, Coca-Cola aims to help create a circular economy and generate livelihood opportunities. To that end, the company is partnering with various organizations like Plastic Bank and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to empower other Filipino communities.

With the help of Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and Philippine Rural Construction Movement, several communities in Bataan, Cavite, Albay, Marinduque and Davao, Nueva Ecija and North Cotabato were given trainings on how to reuse, recycle and upcycle PET bottles.

The company is also accelerating the launch of a pioneering PET plastic recycling facility in General Trias, Cavite. The facility, PETValue–a joint venture partnership between its local bottler, Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines and Thailand-based Indorama Ventures, a global leader in packaging solutions and green technology–is touted to be the Philippines’ largest bottle-to-bottle recycling plant. It is expected to be fully operational by Q1 2022 and is expected to process around 30,000 metric tons of used plastic PET bottles and produce around 16,000 metric tons of recycled PET resin every year.

As Coca-Cola moves towards its vision of a litter-free world through collaborative partnerships with like-minded organizations, the company will create more sustainable and inclusive programs to reduce its carbon footprint and, more importantly, help stakeholders and communities. Read more about Coca-Cola’s support to waste management initiatives through https://www.coca-colacompany.com/reports/business-environmental-social-governance-report-2020.

 
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