At a sari-sari store in Marilao, Bulacan, a mini waste revolution is underway. Leading it is sari-sari store owner Evelyn Garcia – better known as Aling Evelyn – who is set up to collect plastic bottles, sachets, and styrofoam containers from her community, and direct them towards co-processing and recycling.
She is among over 100 women micro-entrepreneurs who have rallied behind plastic waste collection efforts through the Aling Tindera Waste-to-Cash initiative. The initiative is operated by Friends of HOPE, a partner of the Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX), and is part of PCX’s Collect, Certify, Circulate: Plastic Waste Recovery and Processing Programmes, which the Alliance supports. PCX works with various partners to execute audited plastic waste reduction programmes.
These eco-warriors, most of whom run small sundry shops in their barangay (districts), are provided the necessary infrastructure to set up waste collection points alongside their shops, such as container vans, scales, and balers. This allows them to buy the full range of plastic waste from community members and local waste collectors, getting used plastics off the streets, and preventing it from leaking into the streets and water bodies.
Blockchain technology is used to make collection traceable and verifiable. Collected waste is logged and then transported to pre-vetted processors, who divert them for recycling or co-processing.
As waste in the environment goes down, the women’s incomes go up – as do opportunities for their families and community members who participate in, or benefit from, their micro-businesses. Aling Evelyn’s income – which has increased by up to 1,600 pesos a week – not only helps cover her family’s basic needs but has allowed her child to finish school.
During the first phase of the project in 2022, 996 tonnes of unmanaged post-consumer waste was diverted from rivers and streets, five months ahead of schedule, not least because of the efforts of “Alings” like Evelyn.