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Quezon City sari-sari stores to soon have refilling stations of daily essentials to help curb plastic pollution

In Quezon City, a number of sari-sari stores will soon have refilling stations of daily essentials in tingi quantities to help curb the worsening plastic pollution.

Greenpeace Philippines and incubator lab Impact Hub will bring the Kuha sa Tingi (KST) initiative to the City of Stars, where an initial 30 sari-sari stores, to be dubbed Tindahan ni Ate Joy, will have refill stations to offer daily essentials in tingi quantities beginning July 1.

According to Eunille Santos of Greenpeace Philippines, four products will be available for refill: dishwashing liquid, fabric conduction, liquid detergent, and multipurpose cleaner. Customers only need to bring their reusable containers.

KST aims to provide people with alternatives to sacheted products in the form of affordable and simple reuse and refill systems.

Greenpeace Philippines and incubator lab Impact Hub have tapped "several local manufacturers who provided us good quality products at a price that's low enough for refilling to compete against sachets," Santos wrote in an email to GMA News Online.

According to Greenpeace Philippines, over 164 million sachets are used in the Philippines everyday. The plastic problem is so bad that microplastics are now confirmed to be floating in Metro Manila air. Last year, microplastics were also found in human blood for the first time.

“By installing refill stations in sari-sari stores and redesigning the business model around the needs of the community, we can make plastic-free goods available to Filipinos from all socioeconomic sectors," said Marian Ledesma, Greenpeace Philippines' Zero Waste campaigner.

“The collaboration between the Quezon City Government, Impact Hub Manila, and Greenpeace Philippines shows us how cities, communities, and local businesses are taking the lead in tackling plastic pollution by advancing business models based on reuse and refill systems. It’s time for corporations to do their part, too,” Ledesma added.

“Not only should companies reduce plastic production and phase out single-use plastics, but they also have to invest resources to transition to and adopt reuse and refill systems in their operations," she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Joy Belmonte said "Being sustainable and eco-friendly doesn't have to be expensive. Our partnership with Greenpeace and Impact Hub only proves that shifting to zero waste and limiting our plastic generation is inclusive, affordable, and accessible to all, including those from socioeconomic sectors and urban areas."

Aside from KST, the QC city government has initiated various strategies to address the challenges of the plastic waste crisis such as the banning of single-use plastics and plastic bag ordinances, and the Vote to Tote project.

KST was piloted in San Juan, where 10 sari-sari stores were equipped with refilling stations between November 2022 to April 2023. The program managed to avoid more than 15,000 sachets, Greenpeace Philippines said. Imagine the amount of plastics the initial 30 sari-sari stores in Quezon City can avoid.

"Partner stores in San Juan were able to generate product from selling the products and store owners mentioned being able to benefit from the program both economically, as they were able to earn, and environmentally, as they saw the behaviorial shift within their communities to do refilling instead of sachets," Santos said.

KST in Quezon City begins on July 1 to coincide with Plastic-free July, an initiative of the Plastic-free foundation, which has a vision of seeing a world free of plastic waste. — LA, GMA Integrated News