Technological Institute of the Philippines

T.I.P. innovates eco-friendly sachets; signs partnership MOA with Unilever

Technological Institute of the Philippines (T.I.P.) industrial engineering students developed eco-friendly sachets for Unilever Philippines, showcasing the future of consumer goods packaging. The students’ sustainable sachet prototypes were presented to Unilever’s representatives, after which T.I.P. and Unilever signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) formalizing their research partnership. The product presentations and MOA signing were conducted in T.I.P. Quezon City on March 21, 2018.

In line with the global Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever Philippines challenged T.I.P. industrial engineering students to create a more sustainable packaging solution than can viably replace single-use, multi-layered plastic sachets prevalent in developing countries such as the Philippines. The sachet prototypes must have low environmental impact before, during, and after production, while retaining the same functionality consumers are familiar with. Five student teams from the T.I.P. industrial engineering department participated in the challenge, each using various readily available and biodegradable plastic-substitutes to come up with the most eco-friendly sachets possible. The teams used various design standards—such as ISO and ASTM International standards—to test their products’ shelf life and durability, among others. They also employed industrial engineering tools and techniques, including demand-supply gap analysis, value engineering, methods engineering, and trade-offs analysis, to objectively assess their sachets.

Judging the teams were Marlo Mangilin, Unilever Philippines research and development director; Beverley Villamidez, personal care packaging support manager; Donnie Burgos, R&D Asia packaging development support manager; and Rondell Torres, senior sustainable business and communication manager.

Emerging in first place were Kris Allen Cruz, Danielle Gundayao, Neilson Pancho, John Paulo Rosuelo, and Rellie Samson with their project “Sustainable Packaging Design on the Sachets of Food and Non-food Products of Unilever Philippines Inc.” Their winning design utilizes the extracted keratin from chicken feathers, in the process producing a mere 0.15kg of waste per ton of production. The chicken feather-based sachet is also 90% recyclable and is durable for up to 10 years. Moreover, the components cost just PHP 1.91 per sachet.

Coming in second place was the project by Ernest Alegado, James Canda, Renz Eludo, Marielle Garcia, and Jestoni Verdillo called “Alternative Design of Unilever’s Sachet to Aid Waste Management.” Their “bagarch” food packaging uses a combination of sugarcane bagasse and cassava starch; is 90% biodegradable in 93 days; and offers a return on investment in 15 days. Their bagasse non-food packaging is 60% biodegradable, and offers a return on investment in 17 days.

Taking home third place was the project entitled “Organic Alternative Sachet Packaging Design for Unilever's Food and Non-food Products” by Ariel Asama, Kyla Francisco, Joyce Franco, Dominic Madrigal, and Gilbert Ofalsa. The project makes use of cornhusks and grass for non-food and food packaging, respectively. Both are 70% biodegradable in five years, and feature a return on investment in as fast as 5 days for the cornhusk sachets, and 6 days for the grass sachets.

Also participating were Mhelorie Ampuan, Shanelle Lucena, Holie Reyes, Reginald Santos, and Austine Siena with their project entitled “Waste- and Plant-based Thermoplastic and Bioplastic: Recyclable and Biodegradable Packaging Design Sachet for Unilever.” Their sachets utilize chicken feathers, sugar cane, and chitosan/cassava starch, and are biodegradable in 90 days.

The last project, “Development of Alternative Raw Materials for Food and Non-food Sachet Products of Unilever Philippines,” was created by Elaine Gallego, Janine Kua, Rodelene Lucina, Sharmaine Rioflorido, and Racy Tacquian. The team used wax, kraft paper, soybean, and cellophane to create a paper-based food sachet; and sugarcane bagasse, sugarcane ethanol, and corn husks to create a polyethylene sugarcane-based non-food sachet. Both are 90% biodegradable in 365 days.

The showcase by the T.I.P. industrial engineering students will serve as a stepping stone towards further research into environmental protection and sustainable development in consumer goods packaging. To this end, T.I.P. and Unilever Philippines have agreed to enter a partnership, combining their technical expertise and financial capabilities to spur more studies in this particular area. The partnership’s MOA was signed by T.I.P. Senior Vice President Angelo Q. Lahoz and Unilever Philippines research and development director Marlo Mangilin.

The partnership was facilitated by the institution’s educational model on Student Technopreneurship and Industry-Academe Collaborative Applied Research, also called T.I.P. TechnoCoRe. This thrust allows industries to tap T.I.P.’s engineering and technology prowess for growth-driving innovations. With T.I.P. TechnoCoRe, T.I.P. as an institution can provide better value to businesses looking to attain their strategic objectives through groundbreaking research projects.