CONGLOMERATE San Miguel Corp. on Monday said it is set to become the first Filipino company to utilize fully certified biodegradable plastic packaging.
The company said it is tapping a local firm that has been developing and testing the technology for the last five years, which it is initially set to use for food and nonfood products, such as cement and feed sacks, grocery bags and food packaging.
The move will be the newest addition to San Miguel’s sustainable business models, which include the zero-waste returnable glass bottle system, and manufacturing processes following circular economy principles—where by-products are reused to create other products.
Company President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said that it is partnering with Philippine Bioresins Corp., a small firm that has successfully developed and tested biodegradable plastics.
“Initially, we will use it for cement packaging. 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,” Ang said.
Philippine Bioresins was recently given an Environmental Technology Verification certificate by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Industrial Technology Development Institute.
The DOST verification confirmed that the biodegradable polypropylene produced by the company will be 64.65 percent degraded in 24 months as compared to nonbiodegradable plastics of 4.5 percent in 24 months.
“We have always been looking for innovative environmental technologies, and we are excited about this development. We are looking forward to using biodegradable plastics, and this is just the beginning, as they are developing other technologies in this field,” Ang said.
The country is reportedly the world’s third-largest plastic polluter to global waters.
In addition to using biodegradable cement bags, the company’s cement business also currently 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.
“We are very serious when it comes to sustainability. 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,” the company said.
Last March, San Miguel started collaborating with leading materials science company Dow Chemical to study using hard-to-recycle plastics as an alternative raw material for road surfacing, in order to reduce the volume of scrap plastics that end up in the landfills.