Thursday, October 21, 2010

Unilever Philippines writes back

I wrote Chito Macapagal of Unilever Philippines a couple of days ago and he wrote back.

I'm rather floored that an officer of such a huge company took interest in a letter from me and has even offered to give me more information about his gigantic company's environmental practices.

Perhaps there IS hope for a plastic pollution free Philippines.

Anyway, if you guys want to read it, here's Chito Macapagal's response to my letter asking about what Unilever Philippines is doing about Plastic Pollution.

Dear Paul,
I am chito macapagal of Unilever Philippines. I get to know of your inquiry as i was checking online last night. This morning i received a note that your message has been received eventually by our people in the Consumer Affairs group. I was informed that our website has been undergoing some changes and maintenance at that time . That will explain the error messages you were getting. Likewise , our IT has been migrating my notebook for days now to another unit. Still i can not send out reliably my messages through my Unilever email account thus i am sending you this response via my personal email account.
My apologies therefore for the delay in responding to your email. I am writing to you just to inform you that i have read your concerns and the questions you have on this issue. Let me assure you that i will try my best to answer as much of the questions you have . This is a concern we share with you and with other individuals and groups .
We also have a lot of things to share with you particularly our efforts to address this issue. We will share with you the successes, the challenges , the various routes we have taken and the efforts to strategically and positively influence other companies to take action ,to take a collective multi-industry approach and seek support of other sectors and environmental networks. Unilever Philippines have been proactively working for the preservation of the environment for many years now . It all started with helping a public market in Paco Manila to manage it's solid waste , working in the Rehabilitation of Pasig River for close to a decade now particularly when we were invited in the Pasig River Commission as Private sector representative, Reforestation of La Mesa Watershed, Preservation and Protection of Laguna de Bay via CLEAR ( conservation multipartite partnership with LLDA , Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands and the Global Living Lakes network ( all of these initiatives under our Clean Water program ) and now to an overarching Climate Change Action Roadmap and Program which we have started 4 years ago.
Clean Water and Solid Waste Management is one of Unilever Philippines response to the Millenium Development Goal challenges under Environmental Sustainability. We are also focused on delivering on the MDG Nutrition Challenge and Community Building commitments under GK.
Under Solid Waste Mgmt. we have led our South East Asian region in a Program called Project Eliminate sometime 2003-2004. It is a project geared towards finding a sustainable program in managing solid waste from manufacturing sites. Though there has been a lot of sharing amongst our Asean neighbor companies ,the Philippine operation has placed a tough target by aiming to have a zero landfill by 2005 which we have achieved . Doing so allowed us to become compliant with our Solid Waste Management Law. We succeded in eliminating Land fill from our factories not via one actions but through many small painstaking and major breakthroughs in our operation. We started by doing a waste characterisation study , in Payatas and Pier 18 dumpsite to have a clear and reliable data on the impact of our products that uses flexible packaging. This also served as an internal driver and motivation for us to aspire to succeed.
This i will share with you and others who are interested, as we have shared this on many forums and occasions particularly on SM's Green Retail Agenda briefing for mall tenants , various Forums, Zero Basura Olympics, Environmental Mgmt. Bureau etc.
From our own Post Manufacturing waste, we wanted and have made some positive in roads also in Post Marketing waste ( example used tarpaulins from marketing activities ) and now Post Consumer Waste ( sachets together with other flexible packaging and other recyclable plastic packaging falls under this category ). We can share with you the technical options already available to us ( some we have piloted with success ,)which we have shared with other companies and various industries .
We would also like to share with you some behavioral issues that we need to overcome as it is key to having a sustainable solution to the issue and concern you have raised. We have sought expert opinions and suggestions from NGO's , and other partners who share the same passion and concern. We are also in the process of formally organizing a multiple stakeholder group to manage flexible packaging for industries , producers , manufacturers and even consumers. It has been done with great success in another packaging industry here and there has also been a succesful model in at least another country overseas.
Flexible packaging offers a lot of positive benefits for both producers , manufacturers and consumers....i intend to expound and clarify this issue as well with you.
We are ready to disclose and share all this developments with you as we have already done with others. Personally i am very willing to walk you through and personally answer the questions based on facts we have gathered, data we have on hand and results of our various activities. Please let me know what will be a good time for you to come and visit us. I am also willing to meet you and do the briefing where it is convenient to you. I am also very keen in learning ,hearing your views and getting some insights which will help us address the issue better.

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