One eco-brick at a time
For global energy company Shell, which operates in 70 countries, sustainability is embedded in its operations and business principles. Providing cleaner energy in a responsible manner means minimising adverse environmental and social impacts, contributing to the development of local economies and transitioning to a more sustainable energy future. An example of these principles working in the real world is the latest project undertaken by the Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.
Partnering with Green Antz Builders, an innovative provider of building and housing solutions in the Philippines, Pilipinas Shell has built its first service station with a commercial building using eco-bricks. These alternatives to traditional bricks are made from upcycled plastic waste that includes lubricant bottles and car oil bottles. Located in Plaridel, Bulacan, the service station has the distinction of being not only the first commercial building in the country to be made entirely from eco-bricks, it is also the first in Shell’s global network of mobility stations.
A total of 26,512 eco-bricks were used in the construction of the service station. These were made from 1,200 kilogrammes of upcycled plastic waste, equivalent to 80,000 lubricant bottles. In other words, this initiative prevented a tremendous amount of plastic that came from all over the province – about 1.2 metric tonnes – from ending up in Bulacan’s landfills. Sourcing for the waste materials was accomplished through collaboration between the local governments of Malolos, Plaridel, Pulilan, Baliuag and San Ildefonso, each of which has a waste management programme.
The eco-bricks, manufactured by Green Antz Builders, allow for greater insulation. This in the long run can drastically reduce energy consumption, resulting in lower costs and reduced adverse environmental impact. The bricks are also compact and stronger than traditional hollow blocks. By using these eco-bricks as the primary material for the construction of the service station, Pilipinas Shell has averted the release of 6,065 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Additionally, these eco-bricks generate a commercial value out of waste materials, increasing the potential for income and job generation for local communities. Embracing the benefits of these bricks, Pilipinas Shell, through its social development arm, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., has also collaborated with Green Antz to set up an eco-brick manufacturing hub in Cagayan de Oro. This solar-powered hub will help manage waste in Macajalar Bay while providing an additional source of income to residents of Macabalan and members of the Macabalan Wharf Porters Association. The hub is estimated to make 40 pieces of eco-bricks every 30 to 40 minutes using two kilogrammes of segregated plastics mixed with a sack of cement and simple machines such as shredders and molders.
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems faced by the country. In fact, the Philippines is the third largest ocean polluter in the world, with 2.7 million metric tonnes of plastic waste generated each year. This hard truth makes the latest green projects that Pilipinas Shell has undertaken – building the eco-brick service station and manufacturing hub – an absolute necessity.
Shell is a member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a coalition of global companies that includes chemicals and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods and waste-management firms, along with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Embracing green innovations demonstrates Pilipinas Shell’s determination to power progress by providing more and cleaner solutions. The service station at Plaridel will not remain the only one to be fully built using eco-bricks. The company has plans to utilise them in its future constructions and in the upgrading of its existing mobility stations, which number 1,100 nationwide.
“Transforming plastic waste into a valuable piece of building material is not just innovative; it is a highly satisfying endeavour for the benefit it brings on many levels. Eco-bricks may be more expensive than traditional bricks, but Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation aims to show that green bricks are worth the cost in the long run.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group