Universal Robina Corp. (URC), one of the Philippines’ largest food and beverage companies, has kicked off a slew of initiatives to collect, recover, and divert plastic waste as part of its overall goal to achieve plastic neutrality.
These include long-term collaborative projects on waste management that cover community engagement and linking with local recyclers.
“We are aiming to make lasting, concrete changes on an institutional level, in a way that affects all operations and demonstrates our resolve as a world-class manufacturer,” said Irwin Lee, URC’s president and CEO.
“The culminating goal,” he said, “is to establish a sustainable value chain within a few years.
”With “Juan Goal for Plastic,” URC hopes to help convert post-consumer waste into something useful and to be an active part of consumers’ collect-and-recycle activities.
Under this program, several plastic collection sites have been set up in the country, with more to be opened within the year.
Universal Robina Corporation (URC) pilots its plastic waste management program "Juan Goal for Plastic."
Through its La Carlota sugar mill in Negros Occidental and in partnership with the city of La Carlota, Barangay Roberto Salas Benedicto (RSB), and the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay RSB, URC is collecting PET bottles and other types of plastic every month. It is exchanging plastic waste for cash, matching weight for “environmental points.”
URC’s plant in Bagong Ilog partnered with the local government of Pasig and Basic Environmental Systems & Technologies, Inc. (BEST) to collect plastic twice a month in exchange for environmental points that can be used to redeem URC products or school supplies.
In General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), Cavite, URC’s plant teamed up with the local government of GMA and MENRO GMA to collect plastic every month in exchange for URC products.
Attendees of "Juan Goal for Plastic" in Cavite bring their used plastics to the waste collection event.
Other sites include Robinsons Malls Galleria, starting July 30, to be followed by Robinsons Malls in Ermita, Las Piñas, Magnolia, and Starmills Pampanga, beginning August 13. In partnership with Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC), URC will set up plastic collection booths in these locations every payday weekend that will offer a drop-weigh-redeem scheme for clean and dry plastic waste.
“With our current systems, plastic waste will be segregated and given new life that supports a true circular economy,” said Lee.
URC has also been looking at multi-stakeholder partnerships to tackle the immense plastics challenge.
It is one of the member companies of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, with URC’s Chief Supply Chain & Sustainability Officer David Lim as the Alliance’s South East Asia Regional Task Group Co-Chair.
Alliance to End Plastic Waste is an industry-founded non-profit organization that promotes solutions that reduce and avoid environmental pollution from plastic waste.
URC representatives and participants during "Juan Goal for Plastic" launch in La Carlota, Negros Occidental.
URC is likewise an investor and strategic partner of Planet First, a purpose-led European growth investment platform dedicated to developing solutions to address sustainability challenges.
URC’s initiatives are in line with the Gokongwei Group’s thrust to promote long-term efforts that will significantly help manage post-consumer plastic waste. Other business units under the group have ongoing collection, sorting, and recycling programs in various areas nationwide.
RLC is offering rice in exchange for plastic waste through its “Trash to Bigas” project. Robinsons Malls partnered with Robinsons Supermarket, where customers can swap a kilo of plastic donated with a half-kilo of rice every weekend since June. This initiative is currently being done at Robinsons Place in General Santos City.
URC welcomes Congressman Ramon Romulo and Pasig City CENRO Head Allendri Angeles (bottom row, sixth and seventh) as guest speakers for the "Juan Goal for Plastic" event in Bagong Ilog, Pasig City.
“Easy on the Plastic” is Robinsons Easymart and Robinsons Supermarket’s plastic collection campaign. First launched in 2017, the program aims to divert plastics from oceans and landfills to more sustainable options. In two years, 18,000 ecobricks were collected and were used to create a community center for the Yangil Tribe in Zambales, while some were converted to school chairs. Starting July 30, select Robinsons Easymart and Robinsons Supermarket branches will accept clean and dry PET bottles, which will be processed and recycled.
Aside from its plastic waste initiatives, URC will continue to carry out its sustainability strategies in its six focus areas — People and Communities, Climate Action, Water, Product, Packaging, and Sourcing — as it works toward fulfilling its goals.
“Our ambition to become a sustainable global enterprise has been steadfast and resolute, amid lingering challenges and the steady reopening of economies,” said Lee. “The plans that we have set in motion are bringing us closer to our goals.”