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First Shell retail station built with ‘eco-bricks’ rises in Bulacan

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Facility made of upcycled materials is considered a ‘milestone’

IT’S ALL ABOUT promoting a “circular economy,” says Randy Del Valle, Pilipinas Shell general manager and VP for its mobility business in the country.

Partnering with Green Antz Builders, the global energy company’s Philippine operations recently completed its very first retail station in the country using so-called eco-bricks. Green Antz Builders made the eco-bricks from upcycled plastic waste. In this case some 15,000 Shell lubricant bottles, Select water bottles, and other materials sourced by the community in Plaridel were processed into 26,512 bricks used in the construction.

The eco-brick hub of Green Antz also collects materials through the waste management programs of Malolos, Pulilan, Baliuag, and San Ildefonso local governments, with help from Plaridel’s “chief eco-brick proponent” Jocell Vistan.

The circular economy that Mr. Del Valle speaks of is based on “the concept that things are designed to last longer and (are) meant to be reused, repurposed or recycled.” Instead of ending up in landfills, discarded materials are put to good use.

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“We call it urban mining. Instead of getting all the resources from the environment, we just look around and source for plastic waste,” says Green Antz CEO Engr. Rommel Benig in a release. “In fact, we’re not calling it waste, we’re calling it a resource.” While admitting that the eco-brick is more costly to produce, “buildings that use this alternative can reduce the overall cost of construction and operation.”

In an exclusive interview with “Velocity,” Mr. De Valle shares, “With over 30 Shell Mobility stations already using eco-bricks as part of its building components, and this Plaridel facility built completely using them, Shell will continue to expand this in our new stations and renovation projects. This is truly aligned with Shell’s purpose and commitment to reduce waste as we help shape the mobility future of the Philippines.”

While the other stations partially feature eco-bricks in the construction of some walls, pavement or walkway, the Plaridel facility, avers the Shell executive, is significant in several ways. “It is the first commercial building made of 100% eco-bricks in the Philippines, and it is the first Shell Mobility building of its kind in the world. This is a great milestone for the Philippines, and globally for Shell. Big credit is due to our retailer, Joyce Vistan-Leonardo.”

Along with plastic materials, glass and other debris are used to make the building material which proves more compact than regular hollow blocks and is up to five times stronger — which means less are needed for a build. The eco-bricks also provide greater insulative properties, which can redound in reduced energy consumption and, ultimately, lower cost and environmental impact.

“This past year has been all about accelerating our transformation to do better in our financial, social, and environmental dimensions,” shares Mr. Del Valle. “At Shell, we believe that this milestone station will not only help us reduce our carbon footprint and meet our ambition to reduce, reuse, recycle waste, but also set a precedent for smarter and cost-efficient station design.”

Shell has also forged ties with Green Antz through Pilipinas Shell Foundation to put up a similar eco-brick factory in Cagayan de Oro. This is part of an effort to manage waste in Macajalar Bay, “while also providing members of the Macabalan Wharf Porters Association an additional source of livelihood.”

Underscores Mr. Benig, “We’re seeing a very good trend now. A lot of awareness is being created and more companies and organizations are really getting involved in this now. This was not the case five, six, or seven years ago. So, we are excited about the future, where everybody is more environmentally responsible. We cannot do it alone, neither the government nor the private sectors. But if we combine forces, we have a very good fighting chance to address the problem.”

Shell has pledged US$1.5 billion over the next five years to end plastic waste in the environment, and is a leading member of the Alliance To End Plastic Waste comprised of chemicals and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies and waste management companies, along with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

“We want to make a difference in communities and expand this effort to more locations and sites,” insists Mr. Del Valle. “This is part of Shell’s purpose, even my own personal purpose, and I hope that as a country we will continue doing this for our generation and the next.”

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