The Philippines is the third biggest contributor to plastic waste in the world.
Every year, the country generates 2.7 million tons of plastic waste. Roughly 20% of this waste ends up in the ocean. With COVID-19, plastic pollution has even worsened. Aside from the demand for PPEs that are largely plastic-based, online shopping has undoubtedly increased as of late.
Some Filipinos have taken strides to minimise online shopping to help protect the planet. However, over a year into one of the longest lockdowns in the world, most of us would recognise that it’s not always easy to avoid shopping online.
Of course, the topic of sustainability runs deep. But to lessen the burden of eco-anxiety, there are a number of practical things we can all do. One is to find and support initiatives that aim to recycle — or better yet, upcycle — our plastic waste.
Also read: 8 Things We’re No Longer Buying in 2021
JuanBag: an initiative that upcycles your plastic waste
Starting amid the pandemic, JuanBag is a social enterprise that aims to promote a circular ecosystem in an environment that heavily depends on online shopping.
“We’re redesigning the way we receive our online orders,” JuanBag Founder Rachelle Lacanlale tells TripZilla Philippines. “We are removing unnecessary and single-use packaging and creating a circular economy with our upcycled bags.”
Rachelle adds, “We use post-consumer plastics because we want to have a shift from the ‘single-use plastic’ mindset. “We want to encourage the thinking of how we can maximise the plastic’s overall potential.”
How to donate
If you’re from Metro Manila, you can have your plastic waste picked up for free. JuanBag accepts a variety of packaging waste, including the following:
- Courier packaging
- Bubble wraps
- Supermarket plastic bags
- Small boxes
Make sure to keep your donations clean and dry! Both paper and plastic, when not separated from biodegradable waste like food residue, are not recyclable.
- Compress your plastic waste.
- Take a photo of the compressed plastic.
- Message JuanBag on Facebook to schedule a pick-up.
- A collector (biker) will pick up your donation on the agreed date.
How JuanBag turns plastic waste into upcycled bags
JuanBag partners with vulnerable communities in Metro Manila that upcycles single-use plastic. After sanitising the plastic, they send them to the community which weaves the plastic waste into reusable bags.
As of writing, JuanBag is still in the process of product testing their upcycled bags. Once the products are ready, they’re aiming to conduct their pilot run in Makati and Taguig.
For now, JuanBag has many things planned for its consumers. One is adding a QR code to each product. When scanned, consumers will see how much carbon emission the purchase has saved and how many times the bag has been reused.
JuanBag also plans to provide a rebate and reward system for the customers — an ode to the ‘deposit system’ Filipinos used to practise when purchasing goods from a sari-sari store. “Once the consumer chooses JuanBag as the packaging they want for their parcel to be in, they receive a rebate or reward once they return it via our bins or pick up schedule.”
We’re excited about how JuanBag could help us alleviate plastic pollution one purchase at a time. For now, let’s remember to shop mindfully, choose sustainability, and support eco-friendly initiatives such as this. For more information, you may visit JuanBag’s official Facebook page.