The growing solid waste management (SWM) problem in the Philippines can be attributed to factors such as improper waste disposal, inefficient waste collection, and the lack of disposal and recycling facilities in many cities and municipalities. While the solid waste collection rate varies across the country—ranging from 40 percent to 85 percent, it’s still evident how a sizeable portion of uncollected trash end up in the environment. In fact, out of the 2.7 million tons of plastic waste that the Philippines generates annually, an estimated 20 percent of these seep into the ocean.
Helping to shape a waste-free future as a top priority, Nestlé Philippines, one of the country’s largest food and beverage manufacturers, is tackling solid waste, especially plastics, with a holistic approach. The company is developing the packaging for the future, increasing collection and recycling efforts, and driving new behaviors and understanding through solid waste management (SWM) education.
In its latest initiative, Nestlé PH turned over a new materials recovery facility (MRF) in Barangay Bagong Pook in Lipa City, as part of its program to support the construction of MRFs in barangays. The turnover was attended by Lipa City Mayor Eric Africa, barangay officials and residents, officers from the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, and company representatives.
MRFs are essential for more efficient collection, segregation and recycling of wastes. As mandated by R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, each barangay or cluster of barangays in the country is required to establish an MRF.
According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DENR), and the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), only 35 percent of barangays nationwide have MRFs. The lack of an MRF is one of the challenges that barangays face in implementing their SWM programs.
Mayor Africa congratulated Barangay Bagong Pook officials and residents during the turnover. “My wish is for everyone to work together to maintain this structure so you can maximize its purpose for your barangay. Not only will this help the environment, it’s also a way to encourage discipline among residents and to learn more about the importance of proper waste segregation and recycling,” he said.
“Our old MRF was already too small to accommodate all the recyclable materials from our barangay. This new MRF is a great help because it can lessen the volume of waste we currently deliver to the city,” said Lope Lina, barangay chairman of Bagong Pook. “Our aim is that alongside our existing collection and recycling programs, this MRF will enable us to become a model barangay for solid waste management.”
“At Nestlé PH, it is important that we partner with local government units or LGUs in addressing solid waste management problems. We explore different opportunities for plastics to be recyclable in the country. Through the construction of this MRF, the community will be able to generate value through recycling and reduce the volume of plastic waste that goes to the landfill and oceans,” said Christine Ponce-Garcia, Sustainability Lead of Nestlé PH.
Nestlé Lipa Factory Manager Eric Angulo underscored the long-term partnership between the company and the barangay: “During our presence of 30 years in this community, we have formed a strong bond with its residents. We have been there for each other through thick and thin, especially in times of calamities and crises. Today, we sincerely hope that this MRF will help Barangay Bagong Pook to better manage their solid waste.”
Among its SWM milestones, Nestlé PH is the first multinational fast moving consumer goods company in the country to achieve plastic neutrality, recovering the equivalent amount of plastic it puts out in the market. From August 2020 to May 2022, it collected 48 million kilos of plastic waste. Another of its initiatives is the development and rollout of SWM education modules that reaches grades 1-10 students in 20,000 public schools nationwide under the Nestlé Wellness Campus program. Recently, DENR, NSWMC, and Nestlé PH also launched the No Time To Waste: Climate Change and SWM Talks for officials of LGUs and government agencies, and community leaders.