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DOST eyes alternative raw materials for paper bag

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Plastic is out, paper is in. And to the mounting need for paper bags as the best environmental-friendly option, the country’s science agency is looking into more ways to make paper packaging more accessible to all and even provide additional income opportunities to people.

"The greater use of paper packaging is in line with our current initiatives that protect the environment and uplift the ecosystem," said Science Secretary Mario Montejo. "One of the thrusts of the Department of Science and Technology is the support to green technologies, products, and services."
In Metro Manila and nearby areas, more and more local governments are slowly easing out plastic in their own backyards, compelling stores and vendors to use paper bags in wrapping their wares. The back to paper drive is considered as one good way of avoiding the build up of plastic garbage that clogs up the waterways and contributes to flooding. Plastics likewise are harmful to the environment because of their chemical content and very long degradation process, in addition to making the environment look bad.

“People have become more aware of the environmental risks posed by the continued use of plastics after the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy. Today, 27 towns already have in place local ordinances that regulate the use of plastic bags,” said Aimee Beatrix Habon, Science Research Specialist at DOST’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute-Technology Innovation Division.

“Increased demand for pulp and paper means more challenges for the industry and for DOST-FPRDI as well,” Habon added.
FPRDI has completed and on-going research studies on alternative raw materials such as low grade abaca fibers, banana fibers, and palm oils’ empty fruit bunch fibers for packaging paper, according to Adela Torres, Chief of FPRDI’s Pulp and Paper Products Development Section.

FPRDI is also working out a collaboration with UP Los Banos’ Institute of Plant Breeding in studying hybrid abaca as reinforcement fiber. Currently, FPRDI is part of the Department of Trade and Industry-Bureau of Product Standards’ Technical Committee on Board, Paper, and Pulp which develops standards for packaging paper.

FPRDI was likewise part of the initial stages when the “No to Plastic” campaign in Los Baños, Laguna was conceptualized. Los Baños was one of the first towns in the country to regulate the use of plastic bags for packaging.

by Apple Jean C. Martin




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