Philippine companies like San Miguel Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. are using discarded shopping bags, sachet wrappers and plastic packaging to fire cement plants and build roads as the country embarks on an 8 trillion-peso ($157 billion) infrastructure push through 2022.
San Miguel has laid down its first road combining plastic scraps with asphalt, it said in November. The surface material, developed with Dow Chemical Co., used 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) of plastic to pave a 1,500-square meter (16,145-square foot) test site near the capital.
For Aboitiz’s Republic Cement & Building Materials Inc., plastic serves as an alternative to coal for heating kilns used in making cement. The company is sourcing waste from consumer giants like Nestlé Philippine Inc. and Unilever Philippines Inc. as it processes at least 25,000 tons of plastic annually, director Angela Edralin-Valencia said in an interview.
The two initiatives target soft plastics that are hard to recycle and make up a significant chunk of the trash piling up in Philippine landfills and clogging waterways. Waste management systems have failed to keep up with a growing population and robust consumption in the Southeast Asian nation, which uses 48 million shopping bags and 164 million plastic sachets every day, according to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, or GAIA.