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Republic Cement looks to co-process 10M plastic sheets, bags



THE RESOURCE RECOVERY arm of Republic Cement Services, Inc., ecoloop, plans to co-process a minimum of 10 million plastic sachets or bags per day by next year as part of its efforts to alleviate the country’s waste problem, officials said on Thursday.

Republic Cement President and CEO Nabil Francis said this is an “ambitious” target that they hope to achieve.

“(We) would like to commit to a very ambitious target next year, and this target is to co-process not less than 10 million equivalent (of) plastic sachets or plastic bags per calendar day starting from the very beginning of next year,” Mr. Francis said in a virtual briefing with reporters.

Angela Edralin-Valencia, ecoloop director, said the new target is twice the amount of plastic waste which is being co-processed by the firm.

“It’s going to be double what we are currently doing, and it’s just the beginning,” Ms. Valencia said.

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Although the co-processing plant has been working with private organizations such as Nestle Philippines as of early this year, ecoloop was only introduced to media on Thursday. The resource recovery group of Republic Cement has since participated in more than 30 private and public sector partnerships across the country.

Co-processing involves the reuse or recovery of thermal and mineral properties of qualified waste materials for manufacturing cement.

The method uses heat to destroy residual waste, which would otherwise end up in landfills and waterways, Republic Cement said.

“The recovered heat content from the qualified wastes partially replaces the heat from traditional fossil fuels such as coal and petcoke. Recovered minerals similar to the chemical composition of sand and clay also replace raw materials used in cement production,” the firm said in a separate statement.

Mr. Francis said this is a “proven and viable waste management solution.”

Asked how different co-processing is from incineration, the firm said in a statement that the former had safeguards to contain emissions.

“ecoloop utilizes the cement kiln co-processing method, where emissions are contained and managed within the kiln and any ash produced fully integrated into the stable microstructure of clinker, a key ingredient of cement. On the other hand, some forms of incineration are purely for waste disposal without any energy or material recovery aspects,” Republic Cement said.

However, a representative from No Burn Pilipinas, an alliance of environmental, justice, climate, rights and health groups against waste incineration, said otherwise.

“Co-processing in cement kiln process and other processes in cement manufacturing is the same and in fact worse than incineration within the context of waste conversion to energy,” No Burn Pilipinas Senior Campaigner Glenn Ymata said in an email interview with BusinessWorld.

Mr. Ymata explained that co-processing still involved burning and this “emits pollution, greenhouse gases, and poisonous toxic fumes such as dioxins and furans.”

“(T)ake note also that these furnaces have no/limited pollution/emission control devices, otherwise, the cost of the final product (cement) will skyrocket because maintaining air pollution/emission control devices, especially for dioxins and furans, is very, very expensive,” he said.

Republic Cement is owned by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and Irish building materials company CRH. — Angelica Y. Yang

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