DOST identifies new raw materials for paper bags

By Anna Valmero

TAGUIG CITY, METRO MANILA—As the demand for green paper bags mount, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is looking into other plant species to be used as raw materials for the manufacture of paper bags.

Making the production of paper packaging more accessible will provide additional income opportunities to people, said DOST chief Mario Montejo.

“The greater use of paper packaging is in line with our current initiatives to protect the environment and uplift the ecosystem,” said Montejo.

Low grade abaca fibers, banana fibers, and palm oils’ empty fruit bunch fibers are some of the raw materials for packaging paper that is eyed for development by the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) arm of DOST.

FPRDI is also working out a collaboration with the University of the Philippines Los Banos’ Institute of Plant Breeding in studying hybrid abaca as reinforcement fiber, said Adela Torres, chief of FPRDI’s pulp and paper products development section.

Currently, FPRDI is part of the Department of Trade and Industry-Bureau of Product Standards’ Technical Committee on Board, Paper, and Pulp which develops standards for packaging paper.

In Metro Manila and nearby areas, at least 27 local government units including Los Banos in Laguna, Makati and Muntinlupa were among the first to ban the use of plastic, compelling stores and vendors to use paper bags in wrapping their wares.

The paper drive is eyed to prevent the build up of plastic garbage that clogs up the waterways and contributes to heavier flooding during the rainy season.

Metro Manila alone generates some 8,600 tons of garbage, which are mostly made of plastic, in a day, according to a report by the EcoWaste Coalition.

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