The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is throwing its full support behind the “Aling Tindera” program, which incentivizes the collection of used plastic sachets that are ending up in Manila Bay.

“This residual waste recovery program is very timely as it augments government efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay amid the pandemic where the use of sachets and other plastic packaging has become more rampant,” said DENR Spokesperson and Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

Aling Tindera is a joint project of the DENR-National Capital Region (NCR) office and The Plastic Credit Exchange (PCEx), a non-profit plastic offset organization founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Nanette Medved-Po.

It seeks to incentivize fishermen and their families to collect plastic waste around Manila Bay and sell them in exchange for cash at Aling Tindera collection points stationed in coastal areas.

Aling Tindera shops—“sari-sari” stores owned by women—are collecting the plastics before turning them into profit by selling them to sustainability-conscious companies through the PCEx.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Antiporda noted that majority of people run to the ever-dependable “sari-sari” stores to buy food and other essentials.

Antiporda said that people find consumer products sold in these stores “not only cheaper and affordable, but also practical to meet their daily needs.”

“Unfortunately, since these products come in small packages like sachet, more plastic trash are generated by the community which, if not properly disposed of, would find their way into our waterways,” he pointed out.

This, Antiporda said, is the reason why it is important for the public to religiously practice waste segregation at home and support solid waste management programs like Aling Tindera.

DENR-NCR Executive Director Jacqueline Caancan described the Aling Tindera program as an “innovative approach to addressing the problem of plastic waste in Metro Manila.”

Caancan said that plastic waste, particularly the post-consumer plastic packaging, constitutes a big part of the growing volume of solid waste in the metropolis.

“The program was designed to promote qualified ‘sari-sari’ stores as waste-to-cash collection centers at the barangay level,” the regional director explained.

She added: “We are not only systematizing the recovery of post-consumer plastic wastes such as empty sachets and other single-use plastic packaging from the waste stream, we will also be incentivizing the store owners, and also their suki for turning in their plastic wastes instead of just throwing them away.”

For her part, Medved-Po said the COVID-19 should not be used as an excuse to discontinue the efforts to restore Manila Bay to its former glory.

“The conservation of Manila Bay should not come to a halt while we address the global pandemic,” Medved-Po stressed. “We need to collaborate to create long term solutions for the health of our oceans and waterways because it is very much tied to our own health.” #