San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is increasing its efforts to help manage the country’s solid waste and create more livelihood opportunities amidst the pandemic by buying up bigger volumes of plastic waste to fuel its cement manufacturing facilities. This latest initiative comes after a string of major sustainability efforts launched recently by the conglomerate that include discontinuing its plastic bottled water business, building the country’s first recycled plastics road, and spending a billion pesos to rid major river systems of garbage.
Northern Cement Corporation (NCC), an affiliate of SMC, is capable of consuming up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. It has been using a technology that safely converts plastic waste to energy on a smaller scale but now plans to expand and ramp up its use of plastic wastes for energy following the completion of its materials handling facility in Pangasinan. It is now targeting to reduce the use of traditional fuel by up to 50% and substitute with plastics waste. Its new facility allows it to safely collect and store plastic waste at scale and safely convert waste into energy to reduce landfill waste, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
While NCC’s technology can allow for all types of plastics to be processed and converted to energy, the company is especially targeting plastic bottles, which account for a significant amount of total plastic waste in the world. In 2017, SMC discontinued its Purewater plastic bottled water business to demonstrate its commitment to greater sustainability.
Apart from discontinuing its plastic bottled water business, SMC has, in recent years, made major strides in helping fight solid waste pollution.
- In November 2019, it built the country’s first asphalt road made with recycled plastic wastes, at a company-owned logistics facility used by vehicles with heavy loads, as part of a pilot test to determine its long-term durability.
- Also in November 2019, it announced a partnership with a small, local firm, Philippine Bioresins Corporation, that has been developing and testing technology to create biodegradable plastics that meet government requirements for biodegradable materials. The firm was given an Environmental Verification Certificate by the Dept. of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Industrial Technology Development Institute, which confirmed that the biodegradable polypropylene it developed would be 64.6% degraded within two years–compared to only 4.5% within the same period for non-biodegradable plastics.
- In early 2020, SMC initiated a PHP 1 billion (USD 20.8 million) corporate social responsibility (CSR) project to clean up and dredge the entire 27-km length of the Tullahan-Tinajeros river system over the next five years. It has been removing some 600 tons of garbage from the Tullahan river on a daily basis. As of October 2020, the company has dredged some 48,000 metric tons of silt and garbage from the Tullahan river. The initiative is part of a much larger plan to mitigate flooding in Navotas, Malabon, Caloocan, Quezon City, and parts of Bulacan. The company is also set to dredge major river systems in Bulacan to help address flooding before it begins construction of its new Manila International Airport project.
- SMC is also planting some 190,000 mangroves in Central Luzon and Bulacan to protect coastal areas from tidal flooding and develop marine ecosystems.
(Source: San Miguel Corporation)