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Filipino-owned Startup Helping Community Return Trash to Nature

EcoNest Philippines

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 14. Life Below Water 15. Life on Land

Overview

EcoNest Philippines is a Filipino company aiming to replace plastic packaging with plant-based compostable packaging. They are a distributor and marketer of the idea and are in collaboration with other institutions in the Philippines, which support them in terms of production, execution and community development.

Authors

Saeed Behjat

Saeed Behjat

Kimberly Balin

Kimberly Balin

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

Nikki Luy Sevilla, CEO and founder of EcoNest Philippines, started the company with the help of Joshua Caampued, and they both conceptualized the idea of promoting plant-based compostable packaging through their strong online presence and community education. Most of EcoNest Philippines' packaging items are currently imported, with the logo and branding of EcoNest imprinted on them, but there is an ongoing cooperation with SACHI-Group, Inc., a fully Filipino-owned manufacturer of cassava biobags, to localize the production and lower down the costs for the Philippine market. EcoNest Philippines plans to expand its distribution prowess to support other markets such as the United States, Africa and many more.

They also collaborated with St. John Bosco Parish Tondo who have dedicated a specific area for composting in the land-lacked Metro Manila region. The community will use EcoNest Philippines packaging and contribute to nature by composting them along with organic wastes or food wastes with the support of the Tondo community & Bokashi Pinoy in the said area. This type of cooperation, as Nikki envisaged, is ideal to be replicated all over the country.

Within the 30 months since EcoNest Philippines started its operations, the business has expanded to various provinces in the Philippines and has partnered with different enterprises to promote the use of compostable packaging. The business is progressing and doing their best to stabilize their startup financially especially now that there is a pandemic.

Filipino-owned Startup Helping Community Return Trash to Nature

Inspiration

EcoNest Philippines started when Nikki joined food bazaars back in 2018 when she used to bake. She noticed that although the packaging items in the supermarkets claim to be plant-based, it is not entirely so and it is not compostable. She dug more information and noticed that in the Philippines, there is no truly compostable packaging in the market. There were available plastics which claim to biodegrade after a few months and they just broke down to microplastics which unfortunately are more harmful to the environment. Degradable plastic posed a higher risk than ordinary plastic packaging in fact, as it was more susceptible to end in the stomach of animals or people.

Overall impact

In just a few years, EcoNest Philippines was able to divert more than 45 tons of plastic packaging from entering the waste system. The company consists of a team of creative, passionate, and goal-oriented individuals who are committed to creating a greener planet by providing eco-friendly alternative packaging materials and by educating the community on the right alternatives and its proper disposal. EcoNest Philippines aims to reduce the consequences of plastic and chemical wastes through their 3 brand pillars namely Prevent, Sustain and Cure.

EcoNest believes that prevention is better than cure. The use of eco-friendly packaging materials prevents damage to nature caused by the use of plastics packaging. EcoNest also supports their partners in sustaining their transition from using plastic packaging to eco-friendly packaging by continuously educating the community on the proper care and disposal of EcoNest products and on the importance of proper waste disposal. Their advocacy is not just about selling their products but to also make their consumer understand the impact of using eco-friendly products to the environment. Lastly, EcoNest works with different businesses in creating activities that cure the environmental issues our world is facing. EcoNest, through working with their partners and several organizations, encourages the community to take action now by using eco-friendly packaging materials and through proper waste management. As mentioned by Nikki, “as of now, it is quite difficult to reach out to people and convince them to take action.” The eco-friendly packaging materials EcoNest offers and the way they market their products are good initiatives in trying to slowly address circularity in the Philippines.

Business benefit

With trust and transparency as the core of their business, EcoNest's mission is to be the trusted provider of eco-friendly packaging materials and business supplies. To achieve this mission, EcoNest works closely with their partners and consumers. The initial strategy of EcoNest is by being active in social media by posting their eco-friendly products and advocacies. By being active online, they not only promote their products but they also educate people. Because of their social media presence, they received an influx of demand from MSMEs. EcoNest helps in promoting the brands of these MSMEs by simply posting the photos of them making use of their products and by sharing the stories and advocacies of these MSMEs online. In that way, EcoNest builds connections with their partners by not just providing packaging supplies and marketing support, but also by shared advocacy of creating a sustainable future. It is also a way of helping MSMEs, especially start-up businesses, for their brands to be known in the market. As mentioned by Nikki, “There is more to a brand than just the products”. Sharing the advocacy of the owner builds a story that creates a community with the same advocacy. Through the help of their partners, EcoNest has been able to build a community that is willing to share their stories and advocacies in creating a sustainable future which is very helpful in promoting the use of eco-friendly packaging solutions.

Social and environmental benefit

Waste generation has accelerated recently due to urbanization and population growth. Increasing online shopping and food take-aways because of the effect of the pandemic worsened the generation of solid wastes from plastic packaging. The Philippines is currently facing problems with the availability of landfills, especially in urban areas. Trash clogging that causes floods in the Philippines is also one of the environmental problems caused by plastic wastes. The initiatives of EcoNest addresses this problem. EcoNest offers solutions to these problems through their eco-friendly packaging that are compostable and can be returned back to nature. EcoNest offers eco-friendly packaging not only to provide exciting products to the market but also to provide concrete solutions to the problems on packaging wastes that cause damage to our planet. The products that EcoNest offer benefit several businesses on their sustainability goals by actively involving businesses on initiatives of returning trash back to nature and on educating consumers. With the initiatives of EcoNest, more business owners and individuals are better educated about new plastic alternatives, their features, benefits and proper disposal. EcoNest educates and encourages people to melt or compost the packaging materials and return back to nature by using as a fertilizer to enrich soil.

One of the most recent programs that EcoNest is involved in, is the waste collection and community development program called Trash to Nature which was launched July 17, 2021. It is a circularity effort of EcoNest Philippines in partnership with St. John Bosco Parish Tondo, SACHI-Group, Inc., Bokashi Pinoy Philippines and Plastic Bank Philippines, supported by Rotary Club of Bagumbayan and Rotary club of Manila Metro. The program involves the community and key partners in practicing proper waste segregation, collection and composting. In the Trash to Nature program, people may donate their trash such as dry compostables, food wastes and PET bottles for a chance to get freebies and rewards from those participating in the Sustainability Alliance. In this effort, people were educated on the importance of segregating and composting. The Trash to Nature program aims to close the loop in the Philippines. This is only one of the many projects that EcoNest and its partners created to help reduce plastic wastes and to reach out to people. Nikki mentioned a quote from Fr. Gaudencio Carandang of St. John Bosco Tondo, “Through this partnership, we deepen our response to the Church’s mission of caring for the earth as our Common Home, as Pope Francis upholds in his Encyclical, Laudato Si: ‘The earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone.’ This is a shared responsibility entrusted to us, as stewards of God’s creation”.

Interview

Nikki Luy Sevilla, CEO and founder

Photo of interviewee

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EcoNest Philippines

EcoNest Philippines

Baliuag, PH

Business Website: https://www.econestph.com

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

EcoNest Philippines is a marketing and distribution company specializing in truly eco-friendly, technologically-advanced, and unique packaging products and custom business solutions for enterprises in the Philippines and around the globe. EcoNest aims to greatly alleviate the consequences of plastic and chemical wastes through 3 Brand Pillars: Prevent, Sustain, and Cure. EcoNest Philippines’ vision is to create a community of environmentally conscientious consumers and business owners thriving in a circular economy. Its mission is to be the trusted provider of eco-friendly packaging materials and business supplies as they work closely with decision makers and consumers to shape a greener future.