Single-use plastics can no longer be seen scattered in the quaint village of Poblacion in Burgos, Ilocos Norte as residents collect them in exchange for grocery items and school supplies.
Village chief Joegie Jimenez said in an interview Wednesday they owe it to the students and housewives of Poblacion who have made waste management their way of life since 2019 when the so-called Basura Exchange School Tiangge (BEST) was first launched at the Burgos Central Elementary School and is now on wheels.
To earn points in exchange for free groceries and school supplies, one must collect clean plastic wastes such as plastic bottles and plastic wrappers among others, and bring them to the BEST which is open every Tuesday and Thursday.
Each plastic material has a corresponding point. For example, a single 1.5 liter of a plastic bottle or five pieces of small mineral plastic bottles is equivalent to one point. Points can be redeemed for grocery items like a detergent bar (10 points), 1/4 kilo of sugar (15 points), 3-in-1 coffee (15 points), and a kilo of rice (30 points).
And to reach more village residents, the BEST on wheels was launched.
“The BEST-on-wheels moves around the sitios once a week to collect the clean plastic wastes from residents and exchange them with household and school supplies,” Jimenez said.
Housewives Loivee Moraga and Michelle Maruquin always look forward to the next time the BEST on wheels passes by their area so they can exchange their collected plastics for groceries.
“This is a big help for us especially now that prices of basic commodities are on the rise. It is also a good practice for us to make our environment clean,” said Moraga in an interview.
In partnership with program sponsor Energy Development Corporation, Jimenez hopes that more people will embrace the program to beat plastic pollution while enabling them to make ends meet in this time of crisis.
As one of the country’s models of a waste diversion program that turns plastic wastes into ecobricks and other usable materials, Poblacion was recently awarded as among the country’s Top 5 winners in the “Bayanivation 2.0: Barangay Innovation Challenge 2022” of the Department of the Interior and Local Government with funding support from the United States Embassy in Manila.
“Bayanivation” is a nationwide program that aims to spark civic innovation and digital transformation in local governance in the Philippines. Specifically, it is designed to empower barangay leaders to create innovative, impactful, and replicable solutions to local challenges.
For Jimenez’s village, they received seed funding and additional technical support to sustain its program on waste management. (PNA)