SMC celebrates food and beverage roots; pushes greater sustainability

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San Miguel Corporation is marking its 128th year by celebrating its beginnings as a food and beverage company, and leveraging on its decades of experience to broaden its sustainability goals.

“SMC has thrived for more than a century by providing quality food and beverage products to generations of Filipinos. While the company has gone through different transformations, the Filipino consumer has always been our focus,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said.
“Today, we’re looking to give back by way of committing to much larger sustainability goals,” he added.

Following the launch of its water sustainability project two year ago—where SMC aims to cut group-wide water use by 50 percent by 2025–Ang said the company is now moving to address another critical issue: solid waste pollution.

“It’s in our food and beverage businesses where we honed our expertise in serving people, working with communities, and protecting the environment. So, it’s only fitting that on their 128th anniversary, we’re starting this initiative which will benefit many,” he added.

Founded in Manila’s San Miguel district on Sept. 29, 1890, La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel is the precursor of present-day diversified conglomerate SMC.

Recently, SMC folded its food and beverage units into San Miguel Food and Beverage Inc. (SMFB), placing some of its most iconic and enduring brands under one roof.

These include: San Miguel Pale Pilsen, the original product from 1890; Ginebra San Miguel, acquired much later but was originally from 1835, and Magnolia, its first foray in dairy products, from 1925.

“We owe whatever success we’ve had to the Filipino people. Our food and beverage products, which are the foundation of our growth, are successful because of the trust of our customers, partners, and stakeholders. We know we have a shared responsibility to help address critical challenges that impact people’s lives and our future,” Ang said.

“We’re leveraging on our years of experience, our scale, know-how, and applying the value of malasakit that has run so strong in our food and beverage business for generations. Today we have a wider platform when it comes to addressing important social issues,” he said.

Next leg of sustainability push: solid waste management

“Like water scarcity, solid waste pollution is an issue that is relevant to all of us, and demands more action from everyone—especially companies,” he said.

To kick off its campaign, SMC announced that subsidiary San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp., is looking to partner with a local technology provider and social enterprise, to build a materials recovery, recycling center, and collection hub.

The facility will be able to turn garbage—largely flexibles and single-use plastics collected from partner local governments–into eco-bricks and pavers. These will then be used in the construction of homes for low-income families and for small-scale projects like public toilets or more materials recovery facilities.

“This is the first project of its kind that we are doing. We want to make small-scale plastic recycling accessible to communities. We’re going to replicate this in other areas.  It’s a small effort, but it will have an exponential effect on the amount of plastic recycled and educate consumer on plastic recycling,” Ang said.

Last year, San Miguel discontinued its plastic bottled water business, as part of its sustainability push.

Group-wide ban on single-use plastics  Ang said he also recently mandated the banning of single-use plastics at the company’s main offices. This involves some 6,000 employees, initially.

“We’ve already banned plastic straws, stirrers, cups, and the like. Now, for all corporate events, we want to do away with tarpaulins, plastic signs, and all plastic collaterals designed for one-time use,” he added.

“These are small but actionable steps that we hope will create a culture where people and companies alike are more mindful of the negative impact of single-use plastics.”

These efforts, however, would pale in comparison to a plan by San Miguel to develop cost-effective biodegradable plastic packaging for its food and beverage business, Ang said.

“This is in the development stage, and it will meet the country’s standards for biodegradability,” Ang said. Carbon sequestration SMC Global Power Holdings Inc. is also looking to reduce its impact on the environment by sequestering and storing carbon dioxide emissions by planting four thousand hectares of trees and mangroves.

“We’re planning to utilize carbon sequestration, or carbon capture. What we will do is to protect some 70,000 hectares of both upland and mangrove forests across different provinces. We’re also looking at another 4,000 hectares for upland and mangrove rehabilitation,” Ang related.

San Miguel Food and Beverage Inc., for its part, counts as among its major environmental programs San Miguel Brewery’s “Trees Brew Life” initiative. For the past nine years, employee volunteers have planted some 600,000 new trees in various locations nationwide.

“We’re leveraging on our years of experience, our scale, know-how, and applying the value of malasakit that has run so strong in our food and beverage business for generations. Today we have a wider platform when it comes to addressing important social issues,” he said.

Coastal cleanup, planting of mangroves

To commemorate its anniversary, SMC partnered with the World Wide Fund for a massive cleanup activity at the Las Pinas City portion of the Manila Bay.

The company and its roughly 800-strong network of employee volunteers, are also holding simultaneous coastal cleanups and mangrove planting activities in various locations nationwide.

“Protecting natural resources is important for us because they are integral to our operations.

We undertake these programs not because we want to shore up our image, but because our bodies of water, our forests, our communities, are all critical parts of our business ecosystem.”

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