Vico Sotto inks deal with PCX to implement waste-to-cash program in Pasig

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2021 03:25 PM | Updated as of Dec 03 2021 10:07 AM

MANILA - Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Thursday signed an agreement that would implement a waste-to-cash program in the city through the establishment of several collection points for post-consumer plastic waste.

Under the city's deal with Plastic Collection Exchange (PCX), about 20 "Aling Tinderas" or female micro-entrepreneurs would be tapped to collect "clean, empty, and dry" plastics around their communities and sell these recyclables to collection centers.

"One of the things we've seen in this pandemic is the rise of the use of single-use plastics," Sotto said in a virtual press conference after signing the agreement.

"Nag-iisip din naman kami ng paraan paano makakapag-recycle pa, paano mai-involve ang mga tao, pero ito na, nandito na ang private sector. Mayroon na silang concrete ideas, concrete solutions," he said.

(We were also thinking of ways on how to recycle more and how to get more people involved with recycling, but the private sector is already here. They have concrete ideas, concrete solutions.)

"Aling Tinderas" could earn about P2 per kilo for end-use plastics, and as much as P15 per kilo of PET bottles or used tires, said Nanette Medved-Po, founder of PCX.

"Yung mga ganitong panahon na mahirap ang trabaho at pera, to have this additional incremental income in the households is also hopefully helpful," she said.

(During this time when employment and income is hard to find, to have this additional incremental income in the households is also hopefully helpful.)

The program also helps local government units (LGU) save funds, Medved-Po said.

"The savings don't just come from the reduced load on the LGU's waste collection system, but it also comes from the benefits," she said.

"The baha (flooding) really affects people, the recovery, the repairs, the health of all are affected... It (the collection of plastic) also helps in disaster relief and health issues as well."

The Philippines— one of the world's top plastic waste producers— can unlock up to $1.1 billion from recycling plastic annually, according to a World Bank report released in April.

So far, the Philippines only earns about $246 million or P11.9 billion from recycling plastics per year as the country only reuses part of its single-use plastic waste annually, said the World Bank's Market Study for the Philippines: Plastics Circularity Opportunities and Barriers. 

The Philippines in 2019 recycled some 28 percent of key plastic resins, the study showed. At the same time, 78 percent of material value of plastics is lost to the Philippine economy every year, the World Bank said.

The first 20 "Aling Tinderas" in Pasig City will be sponsored by PepsiCo.

"We firmly believe that actions speak louder than words," said Anne Marie Corominas, PepsiCo Philippines North and Southeast Asia head of corporate affairs and communications.

"We have taken pro-active action against plastic waste and pushed for being 100 percent plastic neutral for our entire portfolio of snacks... in the Philippines," she said.

Pasig is the second city in the Philippines to sign an agreement with PCX for the "Aling Tindera" program, Medved-Po said.

Nineteen "Aling Tinderas" have been operating in Manila since last year after Manila's local government signed a similar agreement with PCX.

There were supposed to be 100 "Aling Tinderas" nationwide this year, but lockdowns and other health protocols under the COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the training and execution of the program, Medved-Po said.

The group is planning to sign more partnerships with local governments in Batangas, Cebu and Davao in the coming months to recuit more plastic waste collectors across the country, she said.

"We are happy to have non-government partners who will help us not only to provide support or budget or finances or equipment, but to also help steer us in the correct direction," Sotto said.

"This effort is more than welcome. Concepts like the circular economy are admittedly pretty new especially for us in the government, but definitely this is the way to move forward."