Community turns plastic into livelihood

COLLECTING plastic trash helps unit a community in Mandaue City and provides steady employment and income.

Thirty-eight year old Elena Gumandoy said the “plastic to pillow” livelihood project in Brgy. Canduman, Mandaue City helped augment her family’s income. Aside from the sale of their ukay-ukay (used clothing) business, pillows made from shredded plastics give her family extra income to send her three kids to school.

Her husband, Benny, who is skilled in sewing, trains women at the Kobe housing to learn the skill. Prior to creating pillows, the livelihood center operated by the Kobe-Canduman Homeowners Association Inc. used to make rags and bags from recycled materials. He said some applied in garments factory after learning sewing, while others opted to become micro-entrepreneurs.

According to Canduman Barangay Captain Leo Jabas, the community has embarked on a new livelihood project that aims to boost the income of the community. He said there are many ways to deal with a barangay’s solid wastes and one of these is to convert all these recyclable trash to something that can earn cash.

He said the barangay’s households have already adopted the habit of segregating their garbage. Taking advantage of this, Jabas proposed to recycle the plastic alongside the unused leather donated by manufacturing firm Dedon and create something they could sell in the market.

“We’ve got tons of shredded plastic and a good and high quality of leather, so why not create pillows? The return is much higher,” said Jabas. The pillows are soft and durable.

The plastic collected in the community are cleaned, dried and shredded in the barangay’s material recovery facility. The pillow-making livelihood project started early this year. It now has about 18 full-time women workers who create pillows of various sizes.


On a lean production week, one person can finish 50 pillows. Prices of pillows range from P35 to more than P100, depending on the size. One worker earns more than P1,000 per week from the sales of bags and pillows.

Jabas said they started marketing their products by joining fiestas. Along with their ukay-ukay business, Elena said they have brought the barangay’s pillow products to neighboring islands and provinces as far as Negros and Daanbantayan.

Benny said they sold 30 pieces of pillows during the town fiesta in Compostela. During their barangay fiesta this month they generated P4,000 in sales.

Benny said they also cater to walk-in orders. They also market their products in SM City Cebu twice a month.

“Aside from the environment-friendly habits, recycling has one benefit- livelihood. It gives people the opportunity to thrive,” said Jabas, who is an environmental awardee by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He was also named an “Oustanding Punong Barangay” during the Mandaue City’s 44th charter day celebration.

Asked about the barangay’s plan to sustain the project, Jabas said they are planning to engage the community and asking them to collect clean plastic.

“We are planning to buy clean plastics from every household at P1 per kilo,” said Jabas. He said the measure will help them make the process of preparing raw materials easier and faster.

They also plan to link with the Department of Trade and Industry to learn more about product development, packaging and marketing.

“Converting trash to cash is doable. You just have to pull in a group of people to start the project and as people in the community see positive results, they will eventually come and (join),” said Jabas.
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