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Unilever weighs plant relocation option

Unilever Philippines said that maintaining its operations in Paco, Manila will depend on the feasibility of the location and on the ordinance of the city government.

Chito Macapagal, Unilever vice president for business development, told reporters at the launch of the “Sachet Recovery Program” that any plan to relocate its plant from Paco is really a function of climate change.

“It depends on how long will it be feasible for us to stay in Paco and the ordinance of the city government of Manila,” Macapagal said. During the flooding caused by typhoon “Ondoy,” Unilever’s Paco facility, which straddles a river, was affected and work was suspended for three days as it has to ensure the safety of its workers.

Unilever has three other manufacturing facilities. It has two facilities for food manufacturing in Gateway Business Park in General Trias, Cavite and one plant in Mangahan, Pasig for Selecta Ice Cream.

“A city ordinance can kick us out and decision of the bosses,” said Macapagal.

Previously, the city government of Manila has been under pressure to implement a new zoning regulation that would reclassify the area along the Pasig River and Pandacan, which hosts the oil depots of oil firms, that would mean relocating the industrial firms in this area. 

So far, there has been no direction from the new city leadership under Mayor Erap Estrada.

Meantime, Unilever expects to double the recovery of sachets of its products particularly Surf to 20 million to 25 million sachets this year from last year’s 10 million sachets.

Last year, the company was able to collect 4 million sachets of Surf alone.

The “Sachet Recovery Program” is a partnership with Smart Communications and Cebuana Lhuillier to recover Surf sachets in an effort towards greener living.        

Under this program, end-users are encouraged to trade their empty Surf sachets in any of the 1,800 Cebuana Lhuillier branches nationwide in exchange for 25 Free texts. The sachets would then be recycled to become building blocks like cement pavers to be donated to 30 beneficiary public schools nationwide.

Smart and Cebuana Lhuillier will also aid Unilever in creating scale for its long-term sachet conversion capabilities such as the conversion into other useful items like construction boards and fuel. At least 170 kilos of sachets are needed to create 1,000 cement pavers.     

Unilever Surf brand manager Benjie Yap said that Surf is the country’s number one detergent brand.

“We are growing very well,” he said adding the partnership with Smart and Cebuana Lhuillier is expected to further strengthen the brand’s awareness and market position.

Overall, Unilever Philippines chairman and president Peter Cowan said they are growing ahead of market. Both company officials refused to give exact sales and market share figures.

Yap further said they plan to include other Unilever products such as shampoos under this program, but for now this is only limited to Surf, which is a Unilver global brand.

Cebuana Lhuillier president and CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier noted that: “Not only does the Sachet Recovery Program address our challenges on waste, it also encourages Filipinos to take a positive action to have healthier surroundings.”

“Through the use of Smart SMS service as a means to reward customer participation in a worthwhile cause,” added Smart co-founder and chief wireless advisor Orlando B. Vea.

 

Source: Manila Bulletin