From redesigning product packaging, developing sustainable lifestyle program for employees to community programs, they covered it all
The Philippines is undeniably a beautiful archipelago blessed with more than 7,000 islands surrounded with bodies of water, rich with different marine biodiversity.
Unfortunately, according to the 2020 report of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), the Philippines is one of the world’s worst offenders on marine life pollution. Annually, Filipinos used 60 billion sachets, and an estimated 0.75 million metric tons of this mismanaged plastic waste ended up in the ocean.
This alarming situation has domino effects. Every time a typhoon comes, plastic wastes end up in our shores just like in Manila Bay. The Instagrammable dolomite beach and sand washed ashore and is replaced by tons of plastic wastes. Meanwhile, Sea Circular report says that these wastes also yield negative effects to the livelihood of fishermen.
“Waste thrown into waterways contributes to frequent flooding in the Metro region,” the report says. “This eventually leaks to the marine environment and have negative impacts on revenue-generating nature-based tourism, as well as on the fishing industry. Fishermen have commented that plastics are smothering coral reefs, resulting in lower fish yields and ecosystem-wide impacts.”
Everyone has a role
To end this cycle, everyone, from individual to institutions has an important role to play. And for Nestle Philippines, the change start from within. In an exclusive interview with The Manila Bulletin, Arlene Tan-Bantoto, senior vice president, head of corporate affairs & communications of Nestle Philippines, Inc. shares the steps and programs the company is doing in addressing the plastic waste.
“Nestlé is committed to taking a leadership role in tackling plastic waste towards a waste-free future. We are implementing a comprehensive approach with three focus areas, namely: packaging alternatives and innovation; collection and recycling; and consumer education,” Arlene says. “Our biggest environmental milestone to date is the achievement of plastic neutrality, which means that we are collecting plastic waste equivalent to that from our packaging.”
The birth of ‘Isabuhay sa Bahay Challenge’
Apart from adjusting their product packaging to make it more environmental friendly and sustainable, the company also kicked off Isabuhay sa Bahay Challenge. This is a program designed to encourage their employees to be mindful of their waste production and to embody a sustainable lifestyle.
“As the Kasambuhay for the environment, we have made commitments to tackle plastic waste. Our employee challenge called Isabuhay sa Bahay actively involves our own employees in implementing sustainability practices at home and not only at work, in particular taking a more sustainable lifestyle through waste reduction, waste segregation, and composting among others,” she says. “It is an attempt to inspire others to do the same so that our collective action can create impact towards a waste-free future for the planet.”
Through this program, the company aims to show everyone that sustainable lifestyle is doable.
“Our employees took inspiration from the commitments we made last April during our Net Zero Fair and began practicing proper solid waste management at home through the Isabuhay sa Bahay Challenge,” she continues. “For us, starting at home or with ourselves is the best way to live out the company’s sustainability commitments and we hope that it inspires not just our employees, but the people around them—and you can too.”
Starting them young
The company also acknowledged the importance of educating the young ones. With that, Nestle also partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd).
“Through our Wellness Campus Program in partnership with the Department of Education, we have developed solid waste management modules endorsed by the National Solid Waste Management Commission that are currently being taught in public schools so that students will learn and practice proper waste management,” Arlene says. “We have also developed a condensed version of these modules to educate parents and teens. Our plan is to further expand waste education to communities.”
To make sure everyone has access to recycling bins even schools are closed, Nestle also placed collection point in different SM branches.
“Another ongoing initiative is our partnership with Plastic Credit Exchange where we sponsored collection points at SM malls where consumers can drop off their dry and clean plastic waste,” she says. “Nestlé PH is also advocating the passage of a law mandating an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme in which manufacturers and importers are made responsible for post-consumer plastic waste.”
Arlene then reminds everyone about the importance of collective effort. “By working together, we can do more to prevent plastic waste from entering the environment,” she says. “None of us can do it alone, but a waste-free future is possible through individual contributions and collective actions.”