Learn how turn plastic waste

how to use waste: A group of recyclers in the Philippines are trying to tackle the country’s soaring plastic waste crisis by turning bottles, single-use sachets and snack food wrappers that clog rivers and spoil beaches into building materials.

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The Plastic Flamingo, or “The Plaf”, as they are commonly known, collect the waste, shred it and then mould it into posts and planks called “eco-lumber” that can be used for fencing, decking or even to make disaster-relief shelters.

“(It) is 100% upcycled material, 100% made from plastic waste materials, we also include some additives and colorants and it is rot-free, maintenance-free, splinter-free,” said Erica Reyes, The Plaf’s chief operating officer.

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Having collected over 100 tonnes of plastic waste since it started in 2019, the company is doing its bit to try and tackle a local problem that has global ramifications.

Approximately 80% of global ocean plastic comes from Asian rivers, and the Philippines alone contributes a third of that total, according to a 2021 report by Oxford University’s Our World in Data.

Some 300 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced annually, according to the United Nations Environment Program, a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic which sparked a rush for plastic face shields, gloves, takeaway food containers and bubble wrap as online shopping surged.

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“There’s also improper disposal. People are unaware on ‘how do I dispose of these plastics, where do I dispose of them?’,” said Allison Tan, The Plaf’s marketing associate. “We give that avenue also, that instead of putting it in landfills or oceans…you give it to recycling centers like us and we would… upcycle them into better products.”

As well as tackling waste problems, the group say they are in talks with other non-government organisations to help rebuild houses destroyed by typhoons using their sustainable building materials.

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