Las Piñas finds plastic answer to school chair shortage


SENATOR-ELECT Cynthia Villar (left) inspects the machinery that can turn plastic wastes into school chairs at a newly opened recycling plant in Las Piñas City. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Short on school chairs this coming school year? Why not make some out of trash?

In Las Piñas City, a recycling plant can do just that. Inaugurated by the Villar Foundation on Friday, a factory in Barangay Ilaya is now turning plastic wastes into armchairs which will soon be distributed among campuses in Metro Manila.

The foundation tapped the Davao-based Envirotech Waste Recycling Inc. for the technology.

“We have a lot of plastic wastes here in Metro Manila. When disposed improperly, they could clog our drainage systems and eventually cause flooding, which in turn spreads diseases,” said Senator-elect Cynthia Villar, who formally opened the facility along with her son, Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, and her husband, Sen. Manny Villar.

“So we thought of processing these plastic wastes and coming up with something useful. That was, when I read about this technology in Davao,” Villar said.

Envirotech President Winchester Lemen said the recycling plant in Las Piñas is only the second of its kind nationwide. The first is Envirotech’s plant which has been in operation since 2010.

A recycling plant would cost  P5 million to P8 million to build, Lemen said.

The Las Piñas plant can produce around 1,000 armchairs a month. About 24 kilos of mixed “soft plastics”—such as those used as food wrappers—are needed to make a chair, which can be fashioned to look like wooden pieces and comes with replaceable parts.

Contaminants found in the raw materials are removed in the process, Lemen said, noting that tests conducted on Envirotech armchairs had shown low levels of lead (42 parts per million) and no traces of mercury.

Lemen, a mechanical engineer, said Envirotech had also produced benches, desks and other types of furniture from the same raw materials. Plans are afoot to use the technology in producing building materials for low-cost housing units.

“In processing the unavoidable plastic wastes into something useful, like school chairs, we are not only cleaning and protecting the environment, but we are also providing livelihood to the poor, to the workers in the factory who are processing the wastes,” Villar said in a statement.

The Villar Foundation and the local community are in charge of collecting and segregating the plastic wastes, which are then shredded, washed, dried, melted and molded in the plant.

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