Plastic waste that is not managed properly, which is almost always the case, is the number one cause of ocean plastic pollution, leading to extremely adverse effects on the environment.
About eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, according to Ocean Conservancy, organizer of the International Coastal Cleanup Campaign held every 3rd Saturday of September.
What is this ICCPH About?
The ICCPH Environmental Summit is the culmination of the annual International Coastal Cleanup Campaign held in Subic Bay, Philippines organized by the Lighthouse Marina Resort Legacy Foundation (LMRLF).
Besides discussing the outcome of the results of this year’s coastal cleanup campaign, this event intends to bring together like-minded individuals and companies to discuss challenges harming our environment and possible solutions on how we can help fix it — in the hopes of inspiring others towards a sustainable future.
This is the first time that the summit was held online (via Facebook Live). The event was divided into two days. The first day focused on technology that can be utilized to assist in resolving our waste management issues. While the second day honored various people who are making a difference in the fight to save the environment.
DAY 1: How can technology be used to solve environmental problems?
Zero Waste to Nature
The summit started with a presentation from Bert Guevara, Vice President of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability (PARMS) and also one of the board of advisors of the Lighthouse Marina Resort Legacy Foundation.
His presentation was about the Ambisyon 2030: Zero Waste to Nature, a pledge of PARMS and its members during the Anniversary of the Manila Bay Cleanup which aims to implement a holistic and comprehensive program to improve resource recovery and reduce landfill dependency, with the objective of zero waste.
(Watch the presentation of Mr. Bert Guevara below.)
Bert compared this pledge to Europe’s Voluntary Commitment to increase circularity and resource efficiency. According to Plastics Europe, it is widely recognized that plastics have a crucial role to play in delivering a more sustainable future. There is no doubt about the importance of plastic in modern society. It has revolutionized our daily lives and several industrial sectors.
Throughout history, technological advancements have been made to address problems. In the end, however, technology's usefulness as a tool for sustainability is determined by how we employ it, which can be a double-edged sword.
"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking," - Albert Einstein
It is necessary for all parties concerned, including companies, industry associations, and non-governmental organizations, to work together to address a problem of this magnitude. This is the underlying philosophy of the Ambisyon 2030: Zero Waste to Nature initiative.
When we look at one of the big concerns that our environment is facing, such as plastic trash and climate change, we see that these are complex global problems that will take many years of work, cooperation, and learning on our part. To achieve a sustainable future, we must continue to evolve and seek solutions that are environmentally friendly. The use of new technologies to address these issues will undoubtedly be critical.
One of these technologies is called Co-Processing which was presented by Alan Cuyno, New Developments Project Manager of Geocycle Philippines. Co-processing refers to the use of waste materials in industrial processes as alternative fuels or raw material (AFR) to recover energy and material from them. Due to the high temperature of the cement kiln, many sorts of trash may be disposed of properly and without emitting dangerous gases.
(Watch the presentation of Mr. Alan Cuyno below.)
Geocycle Philippines is part of the global waste management business of LafargeHolcim Group that envisions a zero-waste future. In the Philippines, Geocycle has been actively developing and promoting innovative, customized, and safe environmental waste management solutions for more than a decade.
Another technology that was presented was Pyrolysis, a thermochemical treatment that can be applied to any organic (carbon-based) product presented by Andrei Zavarin, project director of the LMRLF.
Andrei's travels around the world have led him to such technology in Thailand where they convert plastic into regular fuel such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. Ever since then, he has believed this is one of the best solutions for plastic waste… However, in the Philippines, Pyrolysis is still something that is not fully accepted yet and is classified as “incineration” or combustion.
(Watch the presentation of Mr. Andrei Zavarin below.)
In Pyrolysis treatment, the material is exposed to high temperature, and unlike combustion and gasification, which involve complete or partial oxidation of the material, pyrolysis is based on heating in the absence of air then goes through chemical and physical separation into different molecules. This makes it mostly an endothermic process that ensures high energy content in the products received.
Andrei also mentioned a collection system that is already being practiced in his hometown in Estonia and other countries such as Norway and Germany for many years, where more than 95% of plastic bottles are recycled. This system gives value to plastic by giving monetary incentives for recycling. He believes that we can come up with such an incentive system that can be incorporated into pyrolysis.
DAY 2: We all have the power to make a change!
There are many ways for each of us to create a positive impact on our environment. It comes down to us each taking responsibility for the personal choices in our everyday lives. During the second and last day of the summit, we have invited a few of our partners to share what they are doing to help restore our damaged ecosystem.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Raf Dionisio, the co-founder of MAD Travel and Executive Director of LMRLF, spoke about his entrepreneurial experience and how it lead him to engage with indigenous people (IP), who are among the most disadvantaged individuals in our society, as he advocates for environmental protection. The indigenous people are regarded to be among the first residents of our land. In order to survive, they have a fundamental requirement to adapt to their surroundings in some way.
The IPs have played an important role in the protection of natural resources inside their respective regions, and in order for them to continue to do so, they must also be taken care of themselves.
Raf is currently running several programs in Zambales that not only provide a means of income for the IP community in the region but also addresses issues such as climate change. They have been able to bring thousands of tourists to reforest the barren mountains through the program of MAD Travel, generating income for the indigenous people while also promoting and educating a more sustainable lifestyle.
Fiona Faulkner, Environmental & Community Development Officer for The Plastic Solution, an environmental program whose aim is to create a plastic-free Philippines, started her talk with “We are losing the planet to plastic for profit”.
While we recognize the importance of using less plastic, we also recognize that doing so will require a process of shifting humanity's production and consumption patterns, which will not be accomplished overnight. That is why people like Fiona and the other volunteer eco-warriors from Plastic Solution have been going around educating people on the threats of plastics and how we can prevent them from entering our environment.
The LMRLF has been working with Plastic Solution on their movement of repurposing plastic bottles by stuffing the bottles with non-biodegradable wastes such as plastics, straws, cigarette butts, sachets, food wrappers, and the like as a form of "ecobrick”.
This is a movement to clean up and take care of the environment in simple and accessible ways, through small actionable steps. This will allow the proper storage and collection of residual trash through these ecobricks which can be used as building material or even as alternative fuel or raw material (AFR) through co-processing.
The public's engagement is vital in our efforts to eliminate plastic pollution. Millions of little steps add up to a significant amount of progress and this is how we will have a chance to win this battle. Precious Plastic project exists to reduce plastic waste. It is a combination of people, machines, platforms, and knowledge to create an alternative global recycling system.
“When it comes to saving the planet, no action is too small or too little, and the first step anyone needs to take is to begin,” said Neilah Asharbaji, Miss Earth Philippines 2021, who is calling for real action to reduce our impact to our environment by finding ways how you can live a more sustainable life such as joining the Previous Plastic Movement.
These small actions when done by millions of people will make a lot of difference. Butte Metz, one of the organizers of Precious Plastic (PP) in the Philippines, showcased the latest machines in his workshop based in Antipolo, Rizal.
The time to act is now!
Real change comes from a change in our habits. And a change in habits comes from a long, sustained alteration of small actions. So indeed the smallest action can have a big impact. So the next time you feel that you would like to do your part in saving the environment, just do something!
The ICCPH Environmental Summit hopes to change the way people think, feel, and ultimately act so we can stem the loss of biodiversity and achieve lasting conservation results. Please check back for updates on future events. You may reach us at email@example.com if you're interested in volunteering or making a donation to our organization.