In major green thrust, SMC to shift to biodegradable plastic packaging
San Miguel Corp. (SMC)—the country’s largest conglomerate—is set to become the first Filipino company to utilize fully certified biodegradable plastic packaging.
The company, which is also Southeast Asia’s largest food processor, said it was tapping a local firm that has been developing and testing the technology in the last five years. SMC will initially use this for food and nonfood products, such as cement and feed sacks, grocery bags and food and other single-use plastic packaging.
The move will be the newest addition to SMC’s sustainable business models, which include the zero-waste returnable glass bottle system and manufacturing processes following circular economy principles—where byproducts are reused to create other products.
For this undertaking, SMC president Ramon Ang said the firm would partner with Philippine Bioresins Corp.—a small but innovative company that had successfully developed and tested biodegradable plastics.
“Initially, we will use it for cement packaging,” he said. “What we will use is a biodegradable plastic woven packaging, or sack. This is proudly developed by Filipino inventors, using local materials, and made by local workers.”
Philippine Bioresins Corp. was recently given an Environmental Technology Verification certificate by the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Industrial Technology Development Institute.
The DOST verification confirmed that the biodegradable polypropylene produced by the company would be 64.6-percent degraded in 24 months as compared to nonbiodegradable plastics (4.5 percent in 24 months).
“We have always been looking for innovative environmental technologies, and we are excited about this development,” Ang said. “We are looking forward to using biodegradable plastics, and this is just the beginning, as they are developing other technologies in this field.”
The SMC chief said the country’s stature as the world’s third-largest plastic polluter to global waters should be enough motivation for people and companies to try and find ways how to lessen their impact on the environment.
In addition to using biodegradable cement bags, the company’s cement business also buys plastic water bottles and bags for use as fuels for its cement plants. It also uses discarded rubber tires and industrial sewage waste as secondary fuel for its cement plants.
“This is another way that we are helping turn plastic wastes that would have otherwise ended up in landfills or bodies of water, into useful and much-needed products—in this case, cement, which is used to construct buildings and infrastructure,” he explained.
“We are very serious when it comes to sustainability,” Ang added. “We have stopped our plastic bottled water business; we have taken on the challenge to reduce group-wide nonproduct water use by 50 percent by 2025, and we’ve poured more resources into major projects to clean up bodies of water as well as into research that supports plastic waste reduction.”
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