Triple B: Shell’s legacy to the community and the environment


It’s a hot afternoon in Pandacan, Manila. The sun glistens at the sweat running down Emilia’s forehead as she piles up the collected recyclable materials which will be hauled by a dump truck later on for delivery to the junk shops. While doing so, she silently computes in her mind how much she will be earning from the day’s collected recyclables. A smile forms in her lips. It has been seven years since she volunteered for the Bawas Basura sa Barangay (Reduce Waste in the Community) project of Pilipinas Shell and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), the social investment arm of Pilipinas Shell. She started as a Bioman and eventually became the assistant operations manager of Bawas Basura sa Barangay or Triple B. The income she has been earning has helped her a great deal in meeting the needs of her family.


Humble beginnings

In 2001, PSFI implemented a solid waste management programme implemented in Shell worksites and its surrounding communities. The Triple B project aims to reduce the waste generated by communities through the application of waste segregation schemes and the establishment of a local waste management system. The project provides technical and capacity-building trainings, conducts information and education campaigns, and has established a materials recovery facility (MRF) for the barangays. Launched as one of the sustainable development initiatives for neighbouring communities of Pilipinas Shell’s oil depot in Pandacan, Manila, Triple B is regarded as among the most effective waste management programmes in the City of Manila. 

Operating the Triple B project are 15 project workers, which include the project councils and the biomen and project councils like Emilia, who help manage the operations of the MRF, from recyclable collection and hauling, sorting, weighing and selling of the materials to big recyclers and/or junk shops. Full operations of the Triple B began in July of 2001. However, the project only lasted until April of 2002 as the lot area it was using as an MRF or redemption centre was used by the government to build a condominium. It was not until March 2004 that PSFI was able to find another suitable area to rebuild the Triple B redemption site. By May 2004, the Triple B project was launched a second time and, in July of the same year, the project was again in full operation. Emilia recalls that during that time, Triple B’s sales were generated from the chemicals and lube oil division of the Pilipinas Shell Pandacan Oil Depot. Triple B purchased and sold PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl) plastic and waste cartons from the Shell depot on a monthly basis. Eventually (by September of 2004), the MRF’s operations were in full blast and Triple B’s sales no longer just came from Shell but also from the residents of barangays in Pandacan. Since then, Triple B has been able to give quarterly incentives to its project staff. According to Emilia, her income could reach as high as Php 6,000 or even more per quarter, depending on the volume of recyclable collection.


Current operations 

To further promote the operations of the project, Triple B was again re-launched on April 22, 2010, simultaneous with Shell Pandacan Oil Depot’s Earth Day celebration together with four participating barangays (830, 833, 834 and 848) of Pandacan, Manila. The re-launch also served as the awarding venue for the winners of the ”Basura Mo, Kabuhayan Ko (Your trash is my livelihood)”, a month-long environmental contest, where the residents competed for the most number of recyclables brought to the Triple B redemption centre. The contest had two categories: highest number of recyclables collected by Triple B biomen and the highest contributed recyclables from an individual household. 

The Triple B process begins with households/institutions sorting their own waste materials, biomen collecting these and storing it in the redemption centre, and junk shops sending their dump trucks to buy and haul the wastes to be processed. The active participation of each one is essential for a smooth process flow and to the successful realision of the Triple B project’s objectives.


Reaping the benefits

One of the most important benefits of the Triple P project is the opportunity it provides for the community members to earn income while beautifying the environment. During Shell Pandacan Oil Depot’s Earth Day 2010 celebration, Triple B Manager Jessie Cruz reported on the waste management project’s contributions to the community. As of July 2010, Triple B reached a gross sales of approximately Php100,000. Forty percent (40%) of the income defrayed the incurred expenses, salaries and allowances of the Triple B project management staff, the other 40% is used as a revolving fund, and the remaining 20% is allotted for the barangays, which is then used for the beautification of the communities. 

Over the years, Triple B has recorded an average annual net income of Php 57,000 and an average annual collection of 33 tons of recyclables from the community and Shell Pandacan Oil Depot, with 73 % of the recyclables coming from the depot and 17 % from surrounding households. 

With the environmental benefits and bright economic prospects to the community of the Triple B project, Pilipinas Shell and its foundation continue to extend their support by working with the Triple B Council in networking with other environmental institutions, and in monitoring the operations and financial status of the programme. In addition, PSFI holds trainings on financial and programme management and quarterly Triple B Council meetings to ensure a smooth implementation of the solid waste management programme.


Awards and citations 

Although there are still areas for improvement, Triple B has, without a doubt, already gone a long way in terms of waste management practice in the community. The Shell instituted sustainable development programme is regarded as one of the most effective waste management programmes in the City of Manila today. In fact, for the years 2003, 2005 and 2006, Nestlé Philippines, Inc., through its Greening the Supple Chain Programme, recognised Shell’s commitment to sustainable development through the successful Triple B Project, an effective demonstration of Shell’s well-balanced approach in achieving excellence in its business, social and environmental responsibility. With the continuing partnership of Pilipinas Shell, Pilipinas Shell Foundation and the barangays of Pandacan, Manila, Triple B shall continue to operate as a venue for creating and sustaining a clean environment for Pandacan’s future generation. 

Meanwhile, a dump truck stops at the Triple B redemption centre, cutting Emilia’s wandering thoughts. In a few minutes, the recyclables she gathered earlier have been replaced with cash and Emilia starts to count the earnings her palm. It’s been a fruitful day. The men hauling recyclables for the junk shops begin to load the last batch of collected materials. A hopeful smile paints Emilia’s lips as she watches the truck drive away with its windshield reflecting the afternoon sun.

By Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc.