A recycling company in Davao, the southern metropolis of the Philippine archipelago, is housing tonnes of plastic trash such as candy wrappers, shopping bags, plastic straws, shampoo sachets, junk food packaging makes homes out of them.
Envirotech Waste Recycling goes beyond waste collection and mere recycling, they're making sure that plastic waste never ends up in the landfill.
The company’s owner, Winchester Lemen says he decided to put up a recycling plant in his hometown because of the opportunity to earn and do good. And now he's providing jobs to his countrymen while saving the planet.
After a successful implementation of the recycled school chairs project in 2017, the business is now manufacturing floor tiles, bricks, planks, and pavers. Before the year ends, the engineer plans to build a 28-sqm house that is made out of 85-90% plastic waste. He’s calling his latest project, EnviroHome.
“We will need at least three tonnes of plastic waste or three thousand kilos of single-use plastic to build one [28-sqm] house... We have started the project by making floor tiles and planks that will support the house’s foundation. We are trying to make each component of the house including the ceiling and roofing, which will all be made out of plastic waste.”
EnviroHome: Sustainable, Cheap, Long-lasting Housing Solution
The EnviroHome is designed to meet the needs of families that are living in remote areas. The house will be equipped with solar lights and a water generator device that extracts water from humid ambient air.
“It will take one day to build and can last for 20 years or so with free replaceable parts,” Mr. Lemen says.
Each unit will cost around Php 280k to Php 380k or AUD $7,700 to AUD $10,500.
The Filipino engineer believes his EnviroHome project is the quickest possible solution to address the country’s single-use plastic problem. A recent audit report in the Philippines has shown the country uses a ‘shocking’ amount of single-use plastic, nearly 60 billion sachets a year.
With his mechanical engineering background, he tries to develop machines that will allow him to recycle products that are considered non-recyclable. “We are now recycling products such as styrofoam, laminated items, junk food packaging and PET bottles that usually just go straight to the landfill," he says.
“We collect all kinds of plastic. Even the single-use plastic ones that we use every day can be mixed with other plastics to make a [new] product."
Part of Mr. Lemen’s advocacy is to create partnerships with various local government units to set-up recycling plants in their communities. He hopes he would be able to reach out to more communities, get more people involved and inspire them to recycle.
To ensure no more plastic waste ends up in landfill, he is encouraging people to sort their household waste properly and recycle everything that can be recycled at-source.
“I hope people will learn to recycle and sort their trash at home or at source, so it will be easier for garbage collectors and recycling companies [like us] to convert them to useful materials.”