A partnership between Nestlé Philippines and Green Antz Builders, Inc., an innovative social enterprise based in Pulilan, Bulacan which produces alternative construction materials incorporating waste plastic laminates, is addressing an environmental issue while involving communities including schoolchildren in waste collection, and providing livelihood opportunities.
Green Antz, which was established with Nestlé’s support, collaborates with corporations, LGUs and NGOs to establish Green Antz Hubs for the production of eco-bricks using waste plastic laminates which are cheaper to use and offer better insulation. Eco-bricks are much more durable than regular hollow blocks. The production of eco-bricks utilizes compression unlike hollow blocks which are made through moulding. Making eco-bricks involves a proprietary process which hollow blocks do not undergo, and the formulation incorporates a special construction additive which makes eco-bricks stronger, enabling plastic and cement to adhere together.
Other Green Antz products are eco-pavers or pervious pavers, and eco-casts or hollow block-size pre-cast. Undergoing development are eco-panels which are 1 meter by .5 meter concrete panels also incorporating waste laminates, as well as plastic boards and roofing tiles. The products which are manufactured by existing Green Antz Hubs in Pulilan and Plaridel, Bulacan; Bacoor, Cavite; Teresa, Rizal; and Cebu, among other locations, are already in use for the construction of homes, schoolhouses and day care centers.
The enterprise also currently has partners in Batangas; Catanduanes, Legaspi, Tabaco and Naga in the Bicol region, Vigan, Ilocos Sur; and El Nido in Palawan. Corporate partners include Nestlé, Aboitiz Power, Republic Cement, Hope in a Bottle, Ayala Land, Pilipinas Shell, and Ten Knots in El Nido. Talks are ongoing with Coca-Cola, Megawide, Human Nature, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Nespresso.
Rommel Benig, president and CEO of Green Antz, is a UP Diliman mechanical engineer, board topnotcher, and former Nestlé Philippines employee who has taken to heart the philosophy of Creating Shared Value (CSV) practiced by Nestlé. “We are a social business, meaning we are pursuing economic value or profit while simultaneously addressing societal problems, aligned with the CSV model. The model we are replicating is the social franchising model, similar to the commercial franchising model except that there are no royalties. When we partner with a company, it sponsors the funding and together we identify a beneficiary which will manage the operation of a Green Antz Hub with Green Antz overseeing it,” Rommel explains.
Green Antz employees with the NPI team of Corporate Affairs Executive Jess Reyes, Corporate Communication Manager Michelle Pador, and Corporate Affairs interns Austin Chua and Mary Ann Poa
An outstanding example of a Green Antz collaboration with an LGU is one with the municipality of Plaridel headed by Mayor Jocell Vistan. The local government, in lieu of accepting monetary payment for services rendered to constituents, requires them instead to pay in the form of discarded plastic bottles and laminates. The wastes are then used to manufacture construction materials with which day care centers, classrooms and walkways are being built in the municipality. Through this effort, Plaridel is solving the problem of plastic and laminate wastes.
“Nestlé is our corporate sponsor, helping us in product development and linking us with other companies to create more awareness and more demand for the products. Nestlé is also helping us to expand this concept in other locations, having committed to establish five to six additional community hubs of Green Antz,” Rommel says.
Corporate Affairs Executive Jess Reyes tries operating the laminate shredding bike
Nestlé Philippines Corporate Affairs Executive Jess Reyes recalls that he challenged Rommel when he opted for entrepreneurship to address the problem of waste plastic laminates with a real-world solution. Happily, Rommel is now doing so through Green Antz, engaging a growing number of sectors nationwide in the process. Nestlé’s involvement, says Jess, is driven by its purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.