Industrialization Creating Waste? Sachet Away!

A look into how industries and corporations are massively contributing to the waste produced in the Philippines

Article by Rasha Gobaco

Graphic by Catia Garcia

With the progression of technology and innovation, the materials needed for consumer products rise with more accessibility. Nonetheless, industrialization, while easing the acquisition of human needs, has caused catastrophes for the environment. As of March 2019, the Philippines is the third biggest offender of ocean pollution. With sustainability and recyclability being called for, what exactly is the problem? And what can be done by companies and consumers to curb this issue?

Most commonly seen as a result of human demands are plastic sachets produced that contain shampoo, juice mix, laundry power, and more. In the Philippines, with the majority of the population in the lower-income brackets, it will be more accessible for the masses to purchase cheaper sachets. As such, companies, in essence, profit more as well, ensuring their place in the market for most Filipinos. But with these disposable single-use plastic bags, landfills pile up, and waterways get clogged. Every year, there are reportedly around a whopping 60 billion sachets thrown in the Philippines. In 2017, companies such as P&G, Unilever, Nestle, and more international businesses had been called out by many news companies and environmental groups like Greenpeace for reportedly being significant contributors to waste. Carbon emission or other by-products from production are also impacting the earth.

The production of plastic containers keep many lives, hassle-free, and luckily, there have been recent strides from companies to fix wasteful practices. As from the international companies mentioned, P&G is currently at the head-front. With a 1 billion dollar effort to end plastic, they started the “Alliance To End Plastic Waste” non-profit organization with partner businesses to clean oceans of waste. Unilever has its recycling plant in Indonesia, reprocessing discarded sachets. Lastly, Nestle has initiatives towards phasing out non-recyclable packaging by 2025. Hopefully, these effects reach Philippine shores soon.

Other local companies are doing concrete work that could be emulated by other Filipino businesses. Requiring customers to bring their reusable packaging for their purchases is a simple policy, for example. Lush or Human Nature accepts their empty containers back to recycle them. Papemelrotti is their recycling center as they receive things from old batteries to books to repurpose and reuse these. They show that it is possible to keep their day-to-day operations going while mutually lowering their carbon footprint.

From these sources, it is challenging to achieve a non-existent impact on the environment as many non-renewable resources may still be needed to produce human goods. Nonetheless, minimizing it the best one can is the goal. International companies can do it. Philippines businesses can do it. Filipinos CAN do it. It requires the effort at first to implement these initiatives into everyday systems, but long-term benefits will keep operating costs low, external benefactors happy, and the environment scot-free — as much as it can be.

With the support and cooperation from consumers, the change can be done to slowly, but surely, to keep the Philippines oceans and lands clean from having the same large amount of waste. Little by little, consumers can try to avoid things that might pollute oceans, and businesses can become more aware of the impact they bring.


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