In major ocean polluter Philippines, group turns plastic waste into planks

From Adrian Portugal
MANILA (Reuters) - A group of recycling companies in the Philippines are trying to alleviate the country's worsening plastic waste crisis by turning bottles, disposable bags, and snack packaging that clog rivers and spoil beaches into building materials.
The plastic flamingo, or "The Plaf" as they are commonly known, collects the trash, shreds it, and then shapes it into posts and boards known as "eco-wood" that can be used for fences, patios or even disasters. Emergency shelters.
"(It's) 100% upcycled, 100% plastic waste, we also use some additives and dyes, and it's rot-free, maintenance-free, and shatter-free," said Erica Reyes, executive director of The Plaf Officer.
With over 100 tons of plastic waste collected to date, the social enterprise is helping to address a local problem with global impact.
Roughly 80% of the world's ocean plastic comes from Asian rivers, and the Philippines will contribute a third of that, according to a 2021 report by Our World in Data at Oxford University.
The Philippines does not have a clear strategy for solving their plastic problem, and their environmental department has announced that they have reached out to manufacturers to find ways to manage their waste.
However, COVID-19 has made it difficult to win the battle against plastic waste.
About 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced annually, according to the United Nations Environment Program, an issue exacerbated by the pandemic that sparked a rush for face shields, gloves, takeaway groceries and bubble wrap as online shopping spiked.
"People don't know how to dispose of these plastics," said Allison Tan, The Plaf's marketing officer.
"We're giving this route instead of dumping it in landfills or oceans ... give it to recycling centers like us and we would recycle them into better products."
In addition to tackling the waste problem, the group is in talks with other non-governmental organizations to help rebuild houses destroyed by typhoons with their sustainable building materials.
(Reporting by Adrian Portugal; Editing by John Geddie and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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