Iloilo startup to represent PH in ASEAN Startup Awards

By Mariela Angella Oladive

Championing sustainability, Iloilo-based startup Rezbin is set to represent the Philippines in the finals of the One ASEAN Startup Awards 2024 in September in Laos, Cambodia, after winning the Impact Startup category at a recently held preliminary round.

The preliminary round, organized by the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), featured 10 innovative startups from around the globe pitching their cutting-edge ideas.

Rezbin’s innovative approach to plastic waste disposal and recycling earned them a USD10,000 research fund to support their mission and contribute to ERIA’s ongoing research projects.

In an interview with Daily Guardian, Rezbin’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mica Martirez shed light on their initiatives for the finals.

She explained that the company is not particularly focused on preparations; instead, they are concentrating on ramping up operations and increasing consumer involvement.

“If consumers actively donate plastic waste at participating establishments, more businesses will be encouraged to adopt Rezbin in their locations. This requires a growing demand from consumers for sustainable solutions. Through this, we aim to inspire businesses to develop their own sustainable practices. Our goal in Laos is to demonstrate that Rezbin truly provides a sustainable solution.”

She further shared their future plans, which include expanding to beverage-oriented establishments to ensure that their plastic and other recyclable wastes are returned to the economy instead of ending up in landfills or the ocean.

Rezbin has made a name for itself in the region by setting up plastic recovery bins since becoming fully operational in July 2023.

Currently, it operates in Iloilo City and Pavia, with 51 and 20 bins strategically placed, respectively, in barangays, schools, offices, hotels, and sari-sari stores to maximize community involvement in waste management. It collects approximately 1.5 to 2 metric tons of plastic waste weekly.

The startup recycles almost all types of plastic into useful products like furniture and fashion accessories.

“What we are trying to achieve at Rezbin, as a waste management technology company, is to create the largest network of drop-off points for recyclable waste in developing countries, starting here in the Philippines, particularly in Iloilo,” Martirez remarked, further expressing plans of expansion beyond collecting plastic waste to include aluminum cans and, soon, beverage cartons.

Martirez expressed gratitude for the opportunity presented at the ASEAN Awards and reaffirmed Rezbin’s commitment to bridging the gap between waste segregation and collection while making recycling accessible to all, especially in developing countries.

She encouraged more barangays and residents to nominate locations for Rezbin installations, with a budget set aside for 30 barangays.

“Our goal is to implement this initiative throughout Iloilo City. Just imagine, with 30 barangays equipped with sustainable waste management solutions, we can significantly reduce plastic pollution and promote environmental sustainability. Everything will be provided for free,” she stated.

Sharing key strategies in running a startup, Martirez emphasized the importance of balancing profitability with sustainability, underlining the startup’s dedication to responsible business practices.

For aspiring startups, she advised prioritizing community building, embracing criticism, and learning from failures. She also underscored the importance of social and environmental responsibility in business operations.

In December 2023, Rezbin won The Aspiring Ilonggo Entrepreneur of the Year for the Tech subcategory at the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Iloilo Chapter’s second annual Ilonggo Entrepreneur Awards.

In September of the same year, Rezbin clinched the Best Tech Startup award organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region VI.

The One ASEAN Startup Awards covers ten countries: Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, and Cambodia. It aims to find local industry game changers, connect them to the global ecosystem, and provide them with the opportunity to make their first steps towards international expansion.

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