San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is set to become the first Filipino company to utilize fully-certified biodegradable plastic packaging. The company is said to be tapping a local firm that has been developing and testing the technology for the last five years, which San Miguel Corporation is initially set to use for food and non-food 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 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 re-used to create other products. SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said that it is partnering with Philippine Bioresins Corporation, a small but innovative company, 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 Corporation 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 non-biodegradable plastics (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.
Ang said that 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 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.
“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. 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 non-product water use by 50% 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.”
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.
Earlier this year, SMC announced a partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to clean up and revive the Tullahan River as part of efforts to rehabilitate the Manila Bay. It will be spending P1 billion for the endeavor. It has also proposed a 1.2-kilometer bridge that will link Boracay to the mainland of Aklan to address water, sewage and solid waste management as well as decongest the island.