Refill rev­o­lu­tion

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORY! -

One of the causes of the garbage prob­lem is pack­ag­ing, es­pe­cially plas­tics and non-re­cy­clables. A good ex­am­ple is sa­chet, a small and cheap re­tail ver­sion of ev­ery­thing from per­sonal care prod­ucts to condi­ments. It rides on the pi­noy ‘tingi’ cul­ture and al­lows low in­come con­sumers to buy qual­ity prod­ucts at af­ford­able prices. In a waste au­dit con­ducted in Free­dom Is­land by Green­peace-Philip­pines and the group Break Free from Plas­tic (BFP) move­ment, the most com­mon item found was sa­chets.

Buy­ing in bulk, which is sup­pos­edly cheaper, elim­i­nates the need for sa­chets. But this op­tion is for the mon­eyed. An­other al­ter­na­tive is to go for refill. Not all prod­ucts come with this op­tion. It is purely vol­un­tary on the part of man­u­fac­tur­ers, un­less there’s a law that would com­pel them to do it.

It is good to know there­fore that re­cently, twenty five (25) of the world's big­gest brands an­nounced that they will soon of­fer prod­ucts in re­fill­able, re­us­able con­tain­ers. Items such as Trop­i­cana or­ange juice, Axe and Dove de­odor­ants, Tide laundry de­ter­gent, Quaker ce­real, and Häa­gen-Dazs ice cream, among oth­ers, will be avail­able in glass or stain­less steel con­tain­ers, in­stead of sin­gle-use dis­pos­able pack­ag­ing.

The project is called ‘Loop’ and it is the re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween these brands and Terra Cy­cle, a waste man­age­ment com­pany that first pitched the idea to these brands a year ago at Davos, Switzer­land. Loop will start as a pi­lot project, launch­ing in May 2019 for 5,000 shop­pers in New York and Paris who sign up for it in ad­vance. It will ex­pand to Lon­don at the end of the year and spread to Toronto, Tokyo, and San Fran­cisco in 2020. If it is suc­cess­ful, more part­ners could join Loop and prod­ucts would even­tu­ally be­come avail­able on store shelves. I hope it will reach the Philip­pines.

In the Philip­pines, we have our own ver­sion of this project. Dubbed “Refill Rev­o­lu­tion’, it was ini­ti­ated by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Bureau of the DENR. Ac­cord­ing to EMB Re­gion 3 Direc­tor Lorme­lyn E. Clau­dio, this project aims to pro­mote and bring aware­ness to the con­cept of re­fill­ing from bulk con­tain­ers “which helps cut back on plas­tic pro­duc­tion, con­sump­tion and pack­ag­ing and trans­late to less air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion.”

“Refill rev­o­lu­tion” was launched in Re­gion 3 on Earth Day last year, in Guig­into, Bu­la­can. Un­like the “Loop” project, this lo­cal ini­tia­tive is only a one-day re­fill­ing event for condi­ments (vine­gar, soy sauce and fish sauce, in­clud­ing cook­ing oil) toi­letries and other house­hold es­sen­tials. Prices of prod­uct re­fills are sig­nif­i­cantly lower than the ex­ist­ing re­tail prices. Aside from Bu­la­can, this ac­tiv­ity was also held in the City of San Fer­nando last June 14, 2018. About 1,500 res­i­dents par­tic­i­pated.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies in­clude HAHSY In­dus­tries Inc., Well­made, Coca-Cola, Froneri (for­merly Nes­tle), Mis­ter Donut and Big E, Pepsi, In­ter­bev Uni­lab, SNE Corp, SunWorld, and Univer­sal Robina Cor­po­ra­tion.

I hope that more com­pa­nies will par­tic­i­pate, and that they will find ways to bring this refill sys­tem down to the sari-sari stores.

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