Sari-sari stores in Quezon City will soon be playing a part in helping solve the country’s plastic problem. Ahead of the celebration of World Refill Day on June 16, the local government of Quezon City, Greenpeace Philippines, and Impact Hub Manila launched “Kuha sa Tingi,” an initiative establishing community-based refill hubs in sari-sari stores to help address plastic pollution.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, Greenpeace Philippines Zero Waste Campaigner Marian Ledesma, and Impact Hub Manila Founder and CEO Ces Rondario signed a memorandum of understanding for the pilot roll-out of the project in selected “Tindahan ni Ate Joy” sari-sari stores.
“Being sustainable and eco-friendly doesn’t have to be expensive. Our partnership with Greenpeace and Impact Hub only proves that shifting to zero waste and limiting our plastic generation is inclusive, affordable, and accessible to all, including those from socioeconomic sectors and urban areas,” Mayor Belmonte said.
Initially, refill stations will be installed in 30 sari-sari stores across the city, where consumers can bring their own reusable containers to refill basic commodities such as liquid detergent, fabric conditioner, and dishwashing liquid.
Designed based on insights from communities and small store owners, the project aims to provide people with alternatives to products in sachets and other kinds of plastic packaging, in the form of affordable and simple reuse and refill systems that build on past sustainable practices. “Kuha sa Tingi” intends to bring back the glory days of the Filipinos’ “tingi” culture, as a response to the worsening state of plastic pollution due to the staggering amount of sachets being consumed daily. Studies show that over 164 million sachets are being used every day in the Philippines.
The scale and gravity of the plastic crisis, coupled with rising plastic production in recent years, has necessitated the development of impactful business models and distribution systems that reduce production and dependence on single-use plastic. According to the United Nations, around 36 percent of all plastic used globally goes into packaging, while around a third of all plastic packaging leaks into the environment. A recent report by the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom shows that reuse systems could cut plastic pollution by 30 percent by 2040.
“Accessible reuse and refill systems are at the heart of ‘Kuha sa Tingi’. We want to give consumers simple, affordable, and convenient access to zero-waste alternatives for their daily needs,” said Ledesma. “By installing refill stations in sari-sari stores and redesigning the business model around the needs of the community, we can make plastic-free goods available to Filipinos from all socioeconomic sectors.”
‘Tingi’ culture is inherently Filipino, once defined by practical and sustainable practices like refilling reusable containers and purchasing only what you need. The project seeks to reclaim that culture by bringing back small-volume retail into its original zero-waste model. The fact that Filipinos were already buying “tingi” decades before corporations manufactured and marketed sachets shows that sachet packaging is not a necessity and can be easily replaced with alternatives.
The implementation of the project will demonstrate the viability of reuse and refill models in the hope that companies embrace zero waste systems in their operations to lessen plastic production and that other cities and institutions replicate the initiative through their own policies and environmental and livelihood programs.
“The ‘Kuha sa Tingi’ initiative seeks to deliver a multi-pronged solution for communities. While refilling is not a novel concept, the project’s model offers competitively priced high-quality products to customers through our sari-sari store partner distributors,” said Rondario. “Furthermore, the model gives both savings to consumers and higher profit to our partner sari-sari stores.”
She added, “We recognize that a significant portion of consumer goods consumption comes in small volume or tingi transactions. This affordability solution allows many to enjoy high-quality products at a price they can budget for. A consequence of this unfortunately is the significant environmental impact of single-use plastic waste. ‘Kuha sa Tingi’ aims to further reduce single-use plastic waste, and propel the push for zero waste in Quezon City.”
“The collaboration between the Quezon City Government, Impact Hub Manila, and Greenpeace Philippines shows us how cities, communities, and local businesses are taking the lead in tackling plastic pollution by advancing business models based on reuse and refill systems. It’s time for corporations to do their part, too,” Ledesma said. “Not only should companies reduce plastic production and phase out single-use plastics, but they also have to invest resources to transition to and adopt reuse and refill systems in their operations.”
Aside from the “Kuha sa Tingi” project, the city government has initiated various strategies to address the challenges of the plastic waste crisis such as the banning of single-use plastics and plastic bag ordinances, and the Vote to Tote project.
Do you have a story for the WhenInManila.com Team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a direct message on WhenInManila.com Facebook Page. Interact with the team and join the WhenInManila.com Community at WIM Squad! We also share our stories on Viber, join us!