This Local Initiative Gives Life To Empty Bottles
Blastik Project and Coca-Cola promotes recycling in the local communities of Negros Occidental
Scenario: You enter a local grocery or convenience store to purchase a bottle of your favorite Coca-Cola product. As you drink its contents, do you think of what happens long after the bottle is placed in the bin?
With sustainability efforts slowly making its way to every household in the country, more and more Filipinos are showing support by lessening their waste production. One of the companies in the forefront of pushing for more sustainable packaging design is Coca-Cola. They continue to research, design, and develop more sustainable packaging so that as you enjoy the Company’s refreshing drinks, their bottles may find new life after they are placed in the bin.
The philanthropic arm of the Company – Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines – on the other hand, has long strived to put in place efficient recycling systems in communities. Teaming up with a small farming community in Negros Occidental called PeacePond and the Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation (AIDFI), and with a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Balik Plastic Bottle Project or Blastik Project is born. The project, launched in July 2019 by Jesus Antonio Orbida and Checcs Osmeña-Orbida, aims to reduce environmental footprint. It is a plastic bottle collection and recycling program that follows the “full-circle” approach, ensuring that waste will not end up in oceans, landfills, or farmlands.
Through this program, the communities are educated and trained on the importance of a total plastic waste management and recycling system, as well as the economic viability of the recyclable plastic PET bottles. Locals see the plastic bottle as another resource that can be used again when they practice proper waste management and turn trash into new and useful items. Here’s how it works!
PeacePond is in charge of organizing the community collection and solid waste management system. Residents then sell their plastic PET bottles to volunteer Blastik Project “eco-rangers”. The Blastik Project “eco-rangers”, equipped with new low carbon-producing e-bikes, collected the containers and deliver them to a small materials recovery facility. Finally, the collected bottles are weighed, washed, dried, stored, and segregated for recycling.
AIDFI provides the recycling technologies such as shredders and compression ovens. The plastic bottles, which are no longer considered waste, will be transformed into new products such as eco-pavers (cement-like blocks), tiles from plastic flakes, chairs from bottle caps, handcrafted wallets from labels, and a whole lot more. They also conduct solid waste management workshops so that other nearby communities can replicate the cause. It doesn’t only provide eco-friendly and livelihood solutions for the locals, but also serves as a more effective way of educating people about the value of recycling as one of the solutions in creating a zero-waste community.
“With the machines and finished products, the people actually see the physical, tangible evidence of the beauty of recycling,” shares Project Manager for the Blastik Project Checcs.
It is not the first project of AIDFI with Coca-Cola Foundation. Together, both organizations help in identifying far-flung communities in the country who have no water access and provide them the opportunity to have a more sustainable way to get clean water for everyday use. The Coca-Cola Agos Program, the Foundation’s water stewardship initiative, is another partnership with AIDFI that advocates for environmental preservation and conservation.
Coca-Cola Foundation’s Chapter Two Program, which includes the Blastik Project, opens new possibilities and brings renewed opportunities for communities to manage their solid waste through education; engagement with NGOs, LGUs, and social enterprises on improving collection and management of recyclable materials; and empowerment with the tools, infrastructure, and technology for more efficient collection and recycling.
So yes, there is life beyond the bottle if we look at the bottle not as trash but as something that can be reused and reintroduced back into the manufacturing system. Remember that once you’re done with the bottle, someone else can make use of it again by providing it a new life cycle. With inspiring and solution-oriented stories such as this initiative, a world without waste is not such a far-fetched idea after all.