Micro-enterprise driven inclusive solution to zero waste communities
Like many counties in the region, a large amount of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in the Philippines are accessed through sari-sari stores – small neighbourhood convenience stores. The convenience and accessibility of these stores, especially by poor and middle-income households, arguably encourages consumers to buy more often at the expense of the environment. Given the social and economic role in local communities of sari-sari stores, as well as the amount of sachet and plastic consumption, they offer a significant opportunity to adopt circular practices.
The Philippine Reef and Conservation Foundation Inc. (PRRCFI) thus proposed the concept of Wala Usik — ‘Nothing is wasted’. Essential to this concept was the importance of localising the principles of circular economy for local businesses. This saw a redesign of the traditional sari-sari stores into the micro-business model referred to as Wala Usik Sari-Sari Stores (WUSSS). The PRRCFI selected and supported eight existing sari-sari stores, helping them to transition into prototypes of the WUSSS concept.
Using the baseline data sets of the project, 45,240 pieces of different types of plastics or an equivalent of 159 kilograms of waste were prevented from going into the oceans. Over six months, each store can eliminate a thousand sachets, and the figure can be higher if scaled wider to multiple stores and more SKUs. Collaborations with local producers also emerged, prompting local government units to look into enabling local industries to participate in the circular economy. In addition, there has been evidence of growing community awareness around single-use plastics.