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The plastic pandemic is only getting worse during COVID-19, the World Economic Forum (WEF) warned in July. As people continue to stay home to avoid getting the coronavirus, we have also become more dependent on courier services. Unfortunately, more food delivery and e-commerce shopping also mean more plastic packaging.

In this episode of B-Side, Inna Serafin and Nikki Sevilla of EcoNest Philippines tell Mariel L. Aguinaldo about biodegradable packaging alternatives that work just as well as plastic. Ms. Serafin is the strategic sales and marketing director of the eco-friendly packaging marketing and distribution company, Ms. Sevilla is its founder and chief executive officer. 

Quoting the WEF report, Ms. Serafin said: “If we are not are careful, short-term thinking during the pandemic could lead to an even larger environmental and public calamity in the future.”


Beware of greenwashing.

While some products banner themselves as being eco-friendly, not all of them are actually biodegradable or compostable. This misleading practice is called “greenwashing.”

Ms. Sevilla founded EcoNest in 2018 after she realized that the only readily available “eco-friendly” packaging at the time was plastic with plant-based additives mixed in.

“For us, we want it to be fully plant-based,” she said. EcoNest carries “cassabags,” bio-bags made from cassava starch, vegetable oil, and compostable polymers. These bags disintegrate in hot water at 80 degrees Celsius. EcoNest also carries Geami honeycomb wrap, which replaces plastic bubble wrap, and sugarcane food trays.

Eco-friendly packaging improves brand image. It also produces a “green halo” that gives customers a sense of fulfillment and pride.

“People in the Philippines are aware already of plastic pollution,” said Ms. Sevilla. “A lot of people would actually support brands or companies that have a sustainability plan or are already making use of eco-packaging. They feel good that they’re doing what they can in order to protect the environment.”

There are other responsible solutions—aside from eco-friendly packaging—that companies can and must start using. 

“We can’t really eliminate plastic from our lives,” said Ms. Serafin, who pointed out that single-use plastics like surgical masks are crucial during the pandemic. The greater the need, then, to implement sustainable solutions where possible. “Sustainability will dictate how businesses operate in the future,” said Ms. Serafin.

“We are already at a climate crisis and it’s about time that we act on it” added Ms. Sevilla. “Start somewhere: segregation, recycling—there are a lot of solutions already within reach.”

This B-Side episode was recorded remotely on November 18. Produced by Nina M. Diaz, Paolo L. Lopez, and Sam L. Marcelo.

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