Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The metal straws ending plastic

The metal straws ending plastic

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Sip PH’s metal straws come in different sizes and colours. Jam Sta Rosa/philippine daily inquirer

The metal straws ending plastic

NOT antiplastic, just antiexcessive waste.

That’s one way to describe the advocacy behind Sip PH, the Philippines’ local social enterprise that “champions waste management solutions for the people and the planet” by selling reusable metal straws, cutlery and drink containers. The company’s chief “exsiputive” officer Pocholo Espina, in fact, says using plastic isn’t totally bad, especially in situations where there is simply no alternative.

What he did find replaceable when he decided to put up Sip PH three years ago were plastic straws, something Espina realised during trips abroad, where he would go diving or mountain climbing. He admits seeing the metal straws being sold elsewhere, but what Espina did was create a product that was friendlier to Pinoys’ budgets, among other things.

“It frustrated me that [metal straws being sold then] were either crazy expensive [$9.50 for four straws], hard to clean or wrapped in plastic. And being a person who really does something when frustrated, I took it upon myself to do something about it,” Espina recalls.

“I decided that Sip would be a company that aspired to completely eliminate plastic straws, and inspired people to choose an alternative. To me, metal was one of the most effective ones, as it is very durable and recyclable.”

Sip PH’s straws are sold for just $2.30 to $7.60 each, depending on the set one chooses (there are individual and multiple straw sets). They all come with a brush for cleaning, and are packed inside a canvas pouch. The company has also recently opened a retail space called Loop, which sells, alongside the straws, bamboo cutlery sets and a stainless steel tumbler akin to the popular Klean Kanteen (but more affordable). Loop officially opened in November last year along Roces Avenue in Quezon City.

“The reception has been really great. Our customers are really happy with the concept. They’re thrilled that there is now a one-stop shop for improving your eco-friendly lifestyle, and that they can see the items first before deciding to purchase,” says Sip PH’s business development director Angela del Rosario (pictured, Philippine Daily Inquirer).

“I think the best part, however, is that it really feels like your friendly community store where customers don’t come in to just buy something; they end up staying and talking about the frustrations and joy of creating a better world for everyone.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

It’s a sentiment that’s perfectly aligned with Sip PH’s mission – a Filipino enterprise that champions waste management solutions for the people and the planet.

“My values were formed to really look beyond the usual, and to do more not just for oneself, but also for others,” says Espina. “Most of my environmentalism stems from being exposed to the world and seeing its beauty deteriorating because of what we are doing to it. People often say the disease of the planet is not global warming, but the existence of humans. We need to create a world that is more sustainable, that balances both consumerism and the effects it creates to the people and the planet.”

Espina said, however, that going zero waste is easier said than done, and so encourages his fellow Filipinos to take things one step at a time. The easiest one can take, he says, is to go back to the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle, in that order.

“If you think about it, nobody was talking about straws in 2016, but look at where we are today. There is hope, and every effort that we take makes that even greater,” Espina adds.

Sip PH also has a nonprofit arm called The Last Straw, which is focused on enabling businesses to become greener, starting with the disuse or reduction of plastic straws in their respective establishments. They also hold educational community engagement activities, such as helping boost an ordinance in Barangay Loyola Heights banning specific single-use plastics. Since its inception, The Last Straw has partnered with 31 establishments that either have no straws at all, use reusable straws or serve them only upon request.

As for growth plans, Espina says the company plans to expand its reach across the country, especially in provinces where waste management practices are still uncommon. They’re also going global, with the aim of creating distribution networks through key partners in regional hubs such as Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Espina says they will be choosing distributors aligned with their advocacy to ensure that the brand’s educational aspect remains unaffected.

“For the US brand, we aim to launch the rest of the global operations by setting up an actual branch there. The US is also one of the areas where plastic use is also really high, so it’s really a significant area to tackle,” Espina says. Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN


  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials