Philippiness’ first ‘green’ billboard absorbs pollutants on Edsa
Not all billboards are created equal.
While many billboards in the metropolis have recently been found wanting in taste and morals, one has found a unique way to stand out.
Located on the northbound lane of Edsa near Forbes Park, the pollution-absorbing billboard of Coca-Cola Philippines is probably the country’s only environment-friendly outdoor advertising sign.
The eye-catching ad which measures 60 feet tall and 60 feet wide makes use of thousands of live Fukien tea plants that are spread across its body, leaving only enough space in the center for the curvy shape of the bottle of the product being promoted.
Written on the ad is the phrase “This billboard absorbs air pollutants.”
“This is the first billboard in the country that makes use of live plants as cover for its surface. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this is also the first in the world,” said JB Baylon, Coca-Cola Philippines’ public affairs and communication director.
According to him, the billboard was an original concept of the company in cooperation with environmental organization World Wide Fund (WWF).
“We wanted to be different. And what better way to do it than to come up with a unique billboard that actually achieves a couple of things—promote the product and send a message of concern for the environment at the same time,” Baylon said. “So together with WWF, we decided to embark on a campaign to reduce pollution in the congested cities of Metro Manila.”
According to botanist Anthony Gao, each Fukien tea plant can absorb up to 13 pounds of carbon dioxide a year on the average.
“This billboard helps alleviate air pollution within its proximate areas as it can absorb a total of 46,800 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, on estimate,” Gao, who works with WWF, said in a statement earlier released by the soda company.
Baylon said they used 3,600 bottles of different Coca-Cola products as pots for the plants.
“The bottles were recycled and they were specially designed to contain the plants securely and to allow the plants to grow sideways,” Baylon added.
The bottles were filled with a potting mixture made up of a combination of industrial by-products and organic fertilizers—a formulation that is stable and lightweight. Holes were also drilled in the bottles to ensure proper drainage.
The live plants survive on a “drip irrigation system” which was especially installed for efficient water distribution. This method allows water mixed with nutrients to be dispensed slowly to the roots of the plants.
The drip irrigation system is also operated on a schedule, allowing the plants to get what they need when they need it.
According to Baylon, their longstanding partnership with WWF to make a positive difference in the environment spans across the two areas—water stewardship and climate protection—which are part of the soda company’s “Live Positively” sustainability program.
Since 2008, Coca-Cola Philippines has partnered with WWF in an effort to help conserve critical watersheds in the country.
“It is one of the environmental initiatives implemented by the company to strive to be a water sustainable business and replenish the amount of water equivalent to what the company uses in all of its beverages and its production,” Baylon said.
Guillermo Aponte, Coca-Cola Philippines president, said in a statement that the plant billboard was “an embodiment of our company’s Live Positively commitment to making a positive difference in the world by incorporating sustainability into everything that we do.”
“In every campaign that we do, we ensure that as much as possible, there is additional help that goes to the society,” added Baylon.
He said that they hope to produce more environment-friendly billboards in the future.
“We would love to do more,” Baylon said, as he cited feedbacks they got since the billboard was unveiled last month.
“We have been getting so many positive feedbacks through texts and e-mails from people from all walks of life, expressing how they appreciate the billboard. It’s unique and amusing. And they were used to seeing a Coke ad in red but this time it’s green,” Baylon told the Inquirer.
He said he hopes other companies would also follow suit as far as advertising is concerned.
“With all the eco-friendly mechanism this billboard employs and the relevant advocacy it stands for, may this serve as a reminder to Filipinos to take an active hand in protecting and saving the environment,” Baylon added.
“Also, we hope this billboard starts a trend and becomes a challenge to advertising creativity. This project raises the bar for us not only in promoting our product, but also demonstrating our commitment to green efforts,” Baylon said.