Bee, a coffee kiosk in a major mall in Puerto Princesa, is generating a lot of buzz among residents thanks to its promotion of biodegradable food containers and “CassaBags” produced from kamoteng kahoy.
Entrepreneur and zero plastic advocate Xian Sing, who runs Bee at the SM City Puerto Princesa’s Reconnect Over Coffee, believes that casual coffee conversations are the best way to discuss causes we care about, such as a love of the environment and how it may be preserved.
Bee is introducing the use of “CassaBags” to residents of Puerto Princesa City and Palawan as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics in collaboration with EcoNest Philippines, the leading distributor of environmentally friendly and technologically advanced packaging solutions for responsible local and multi-national brands.
“Ang goal namin is to address the gap. Meron na tayong ban sa plastic and here we are, we can provide you with truly sustainable alternatives—lahat ng products na kini-carry namin ay compostable talaga,” Sing said.
Sing said that the ultimate purpose of their Bee coffee kiosk, which is open until July 30 at the SM City Puerto Princesa, is to meet people and sit with them in order to promote their campaign for avoiding single-use plastics and support the achievement of Net Zero Emissions by 2050.
Since single-use plastics contribute to climate change, the depletion of natural resources, and ecological degradation, he said, the objective is to switch to net-zero plastics by utilizing biodegradable alternatives that are environmentally safe.
“Ang goal ko dito, wala na palakad-lakad dito na naka-plastic. Even sa dagat, mabawasan ‘yong napupuntang plastic, especially with the cassava bags,” he said.
Shift to alternatives
Sing reckons it’s critical to take the initiative to speak with business owners in order to reach their core market—the sectors of the economy that use plastics most often.
Businesses, which are the primary contributors to the pollution issue, should also have a role in finding solutions.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) found that 2.15 million tons of plastic are used annually by Filipinos. About 35 percent of consumption seeps into the open environment, while 9 percent is recycled.
It poses a danger to an island like Palawan, where tourism is one of the key industries.
“We believe that customers, nakakapag-consume ng plastic kasi nabibili siya. At lahat ng nabibili comes with plastic, kaya we are trying to convince the business class na tayo sana ang mag-make ng shift,” he said.
“We have big businesses producing how many tons of plastics in a year. And if we can cut that down, palitan natin talaga into sustainable alternatives, mababawasan una ‘yong demand for plastics, which in return mababawasan din ang manufacturing emission,” he added.
What’s in a compostable CassaBag?
Sing said that while CassaBags made of kamoteng kahoy resemble plastics, they have a very different effect on the environment.
Palawan, a thriving holiday destination in the Philippines that, despite current regulations, is still not free of single-use plastics, can utilize the CassaBags since they are comprised of natural starches and vegetable oil and leave no toxic residue.
When mixed with hot water, the plastic bag will melt on its own. Sing said that the dissolved plastic solution may be used to hydrate plants and supply nitrogen.
EcoNest Philippines supplies cassava bags and other bagasse products utilized for containers, which are obtained locally in the country.
“With our products, lahat ‘yan compostable. All of them are designed to disappear— after you use them, consumers have the option ngayon to decompose and kaya natin ibalik sa lupa kung saan sila nanggaling,” he said.
Despite the product’s goal, Sing acknowledged that the pricing is a bit costly for small firms.
However, as demand grows, manufacturing costs will fall, making it more affordable to residents of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Discussions with companies will assist to increase demand while also raising awareness among Palaweños.
“I agree na medyo mahal pa rin talaga ang sustainability. One of the reasons din na mataas ang presyo— the demand. The demand is still low, either wala pang appreciation ng karamihan ng Pinoy or may appreciation not willing to act on it,” he said.
“Even if there are people who cannot afford sustainability right now, there is a group of people that can. And I think if we get to capture them first, it will drive up the demand and bring down cost slowly,” he added.
Otherwise, he said, employing single-use plastics continually would not come to an end and will simply result in a losing effort to save the environment.
This year, Bee brought the EcoNest Philippines concept to Palawan, and in June it started working with local businesses to achieve the goal. Bee views these enterprises as its sustainability friends.