Filipino engineer Winchester Lemen is a mechanical engineer from the southern Philippines and runs Envirotech Waste Recycling to turn plastic garbage into chairs.
Envirotech Waste Recycling (EWRI) began making chairs when a visitor came to his plant to ask if he could make something from recycled plastic, and the engineer presented prototype chairs made of melted plastic from landfills. The plastic garbage is collected, shredded, cleaned, melted and molded. After that, they are assembled, sanded and painted.
The amazed visitor ordered 200 chairs.
The city mayor created a “Green Fund” for the project after the visitor showed the chairs he had ordered from Lemen.
According to its website, since its founding in 2010, the company, “….has been geared towards active involvement in the pursuit to regain the world’s ecological intelligence and balance.”
The country is the third biggest ocean polluter as plastic chokes up the water. A study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) says that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags, and 45 million thin film bags daily. To put that into perspective, that’s enough plastic to cover Metro Manila with a foot of plastic in one year. That is 619.6 square kilometers.
EWRI seeks to separate the plastic that it uses as well, following its slogan of “We Reuse Your ReFuse.”
“We also inculcate proper segregation of recyclable mixed plastic waste among the different communities we work with, especially the hard to avoid SOFT PLASTICS like sando bags, and those most often used as packaging for shampoo sachets and coffee packs,” according to the website.
Not only are chairs and benches being made and the environment being cleaned, jobs and livelihoods are created in the process, according to a video released by Lemen.
Lemen explained that the company helps with the backlog of orders on school furniture as the education-eligible population in the Philippines grows.
“The chairs can be used for a very long time, so we do not have to change them every year as was practiced in the past,” he said.
Lemen said that traditionally, chairs are made using trees. Although the cost of these chairs are higher than if they were made using trees, there is a 20-year warranty and have interlocking parts that can be traded out if needed, making sure that teachers and schools get their money’s worth.
“We are saving a three-year-old tree…for every plastic chair we make using recycled plastic,” Lemen said.
“I am happy to say that the fruits of my labor, are now finding their way into public schools here in the Philippines,” Lemen wrote in a company statement. “This has benefitted many children who are now using the chairs.”
Images via Lepat Pisang