The Plastic Flamingo: Recyclers in Philippines creating building materials from plastic waste

A group of recyclers in the Philippines, known as The Plastic Flamingo, are turning bottles, single-use sachets and snack food wrappers that clog rivers and spoil beaches into building materials.

The Plastic Flamingo, otherwise known as The Plaf, collect the waste, shred it and then mould it into posts and planks called “eco-lumber” that can be used for fencing, decking or even to make disaster-relief shelters.

Erica Reyes, The Plaf’s chief operating officer, said: “(It) is 100% upcycled material, 100% made from plastic waste materials, we also include some additives and colourants and it is rot-free, maintenance-free, and splinter-free.”

The Plaf gathers plastics from restaurants, companies, and consumers and transforms them into useable raw material like waterproof planks. To date, the social enterprise has collected over 100 tonnes of plastic in efforts to address a local problem that has global ramifications.

Approximately 80% of global ocean plastic comes from Asian rivers, and the Philippines alone contributes a third of that total, according to a 2021 report by Oxford University’s Our World in Data.

Allison Tan, The Plaf’s marketing associate, added: “People are unaware of how to dispose of these plastics. We give that avenue that instead of putting it in landfills or oceans…you give it to recycling centres like us and we would upcycle them into better products.”

As well as tackling waste problems, the group says it is in talks with other non-government organisations to help rebuild houses destroyed by typhoons using their sustainable building materials.

Image Credit: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The Plastic Flamingo

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living

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