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Sunday, 19 May 2019
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Exploring Solu-tions to Plastic Pollution with Solu

By David Zhang

03/01/2019

Exploring Solu-tions to Plastic Pollution with Solu
With 8 million tons of plastic entering the ocean each year, it is no longer efficient nor sufficient for the governments of emerging markets to persist with door-to-door, street-to-street waste collection. Many times, segregated waste only ends up in the landfill.

So, on September 26, 2018, International School Manila (ISM) welcomed Matthew Barrie, founder and CEO of Solu, to speak on plastic pollution and his initiative to combat this global issue.

Solu is a technology startup based in Metro Manila, which utilizes the rise of mobile connectivity to improve the efficiency of waste collection in the Philippines. It involves all stakeholders by connecting waste collectors and middlemen with waste producers. With the three-bag system for plastics, biodegradables, and glass, the App encourages waste segregation with material, financial incentives. This process can be more succinctly conveyed through the above image from their official website: https://soluhq.com/

In line with ISM’s Grade 11 IB Group four-day theme of Plastic Pollution, we also asked Matthew Barrie to speak to the school’s dedicated Sustainability Council, a group of like-minded students who are passionate about creating a sustainable community at ISM.
After briefly describing the functions of the application and its layout, Barrie enlightened our aspiring youth with his Solu story from York University graduate to CEO at age 23.

In 2016, he was astonished by Ocean Conservancy’s study, which stated that 81 percent of the daily 6.5 million kilograms of plastic waste in the Philippines is mismanaged and ends up in the ocean. After traveling to the Philippines in February 2018, where Barrie was further shocked by the sheer amount of waste festering in the streets, he hit on the initial idea for Solu. Since then, Solu has won four international start-up competitions and relocated its headquarters to Taguig City. In half a year, Barrie was able to begin beta testing in partner municipalities before managing to scale up in October.

Inspired by his story, the Sustainability Council asked Barrie a range of questions, from what inspired him to how he overcame his business difficulties. Sustainability Council members came to better understand the difficulties involved in attracting financiers to support a Filipino start-up. They also learned about the challenge of correcting the common stereotype that one company cannot be both a scalable, high-growth start-up and a social enterprise.

With lower-income cities doubling their solid waste generation in the next 15 years, the world needs more people like Barrie who can help the business world understand the importance and profitability of protecting the environment. ISM and the Sustainability Council warmly thank Matthew Barrie for choosing to share his meaningful journey with us.

David Zhang is a Grade 12 student at International School Manila.




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