In time for World Environment Day 2021, PLDT Inc. and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) signed a tripartite partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Region 3 and DENR-accredited provider JMR Trade & Transport Services (JMR) for an initiative aimed at the proper collection, transport, disposal, and recycling of electronic and hazardous waste from cellsites and offices.
For PLDT and Smart, e-waste includes discarded phones, tablets, computers, chargers and device accessories, while hazardous waste includes used lead acid batteries (ULAB) and fiber optic cables.
The involvement of DENR-EMB Region 3 covers coordination with other regional offices to provide support to the waste recovery project. The agency will also link PLDT and JMR to its network of scientific researchers and experts.
The partnership is aligned with PLDT and Smart’s #SmartPlanet e-Waste Program, which uses technology to encourage a proper way of recycling discarded electronic devices. This helps avoid harmful effects of electronic waste on health and the environment.
The program’s primary innovation is the #SmartPlanet phone recycling bin, which uses electronic sensors to send out Smart e-load in exchange for used phones, chargers, and tablets. The device was PLDT’s winning entry during the first MVP Geek Olympics, an annual innovation competition that is open to all employees of companies under the leadership of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. The MVP Group event is a brainchild of PLDT Innolab, an incubator for startups and developer communities wanting to scale extensible partnerships.
The DENR partnership also supports PLDT’s and Smart’s long-running partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) for its battery recycling program. The program involves the collection of used lead-acid batteries from cellsites for proper treatment and recycling. Recycling proceeds are then used to support various community projects. For PLDT, these recycling proceeds or the ULAB CSR Fund is primarily used for building classrooms, especially in remote areas. From the start of the program in 2006, the initiative has funded the construction of 44 classrooms nationwide.
With the partnership, PLDT also commits to ramping up environmental awareness and proper disposal of e-waste among its staff, employees, partners and stakeholders.
PLDT and Smart’s e-waste disposal programs are aligned with the group’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), particularly SDG #12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Under this SDG, companies are to ensure the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.