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Business

Supply woes hamper plastic-free businesses

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — While some businesses in Southeast Asia are targeting to offer plastic-free products, the lack of suppliers with eco-friendly solutions remains a challenge, according to UK-based Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI).

In a report, SCI presented five case studies of businesses in Southeast Asia that use packaging-free or refillables solutions as opposed to single use plastic (SUP).

Among the featured businesses in the case studies include Philippine-based WorkingMum Period, which offers reusable, washable and sanitary pads to replace disposable ones; reusable containers for food deliveries provider in Singapore barePack and refillables shops Nude, Toko Organis and Refillables Hoi An in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

According to the report, finding suppliers who are willing to embark on package-free supply solutions is among the problems faced by the plastic-free businesses.

“Several of the plastic-free businesses analyzed mentioned how much effort it took to find suppliers willing to collaborate without compromising on affordable, good-quality, refillable and eco-friendly products,” SCI said.

Malaysian refillables shop NUDE, said finding quality products that do not harm the earth at reasonable prices requires a lot of research and patience.

“It requires a lot of research to find them, test out their items and, once we determine it is a good product that we would like to offer to our customers, the discussions and negotiations begin,” NUDE founder Cheryl Anne Low said.

Another barrier cited in the report is the perception of zero waste lifestyle and shopping as an elitist choice.

This is something plastic-free businesses are trying to address by making sure the prices of their products are affordable and accessible.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

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