In Amadeo town, Cavite province, villagers swap a kilogram of household plastic waste for a kilogram of rice. This project initiated by the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) at Barangay Talon is gaining traction, not only for trying to protect the environment, but because people saw it as a fresh attempt to deviate from the usual beauty pageants and sports events held in villages around the country. The project was also launched at a time when the price of commercial rice was high. “This is something worthy of emulation by other [SK] chapters all over the country,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said of the project in his recent Facebook post.
Program mechanics are simple, said John Dexter Batino, Talon SK chair. “Just bring in your plastic trash, we will weigh it, then give you a kilo of rice,” he said. Since its launch on Oct. 17, the council has so far collected 20 kg of plastic bottles and food wrappers. SK council members, most of them young professionals, spend their weekends sorting, cutting and shredding plastic in the village hall. Batino said once they had collected enough materials, they would turn the plastic waste into “ecobricks,” a plastic bottle stuffed with shredded plastic bags or wrappers that could be used in making modular furniture like chairs or tables. Cleaned and shredded plastics can also be used as fillings for pillows, a technique they got from browsing the internet, he said.
The finished products will be donated to the village school. He said they initially had only two sacks (100 kg) of rice from the provincial government to give away, but a private real estate company in Amadeo offered to give more rice after learning about the initiative. “We thought of [giving free rice] because here, the price of rice had gone up to P55 to P60 per kilo,” Batino said. He said they also wanted to help reduce garbage generated in Amadeo, a predominantly agricultural and coffee-producing town, where about 60 percent of solid waste generated weekly was composed of plastic trash. According to Batino, Amadeo does not have its own landfill and spends about P16,000 per trip to haul the town’s garbage to the closest landfill in Laguna province.