This is the story of a man who turns 30 kilograms of plastic into a school chair! He is not a wizard who indulges a magic trick but a mechanical engineer from Davao City.
Winchester Lemen, president and CEO of Envirotech Waste recycling Inc. (EWRI), a company he created in 2010, processes up to 90 tons per month of plastic bags, candy wrappers, drinking straws, food packaging and other plastic trash, and transforms them using, Winchester Lemen’s invention, into school chairs, benches, picnic tables and lounge chairs. Since 2010 EWRI has produced over than 300,000 pieces of school desks and has now 30 employees. His moto is “We ReUse Your ReFuse”.
EWRI collects around 100 tons per month of plastic from north and south of Mindanao from individuals, municipality and companies. The heart of the process is drived by a Winchester Lemen’s invention – a thermal heating technology – and the plant’s work consists in plastic wastes being shredded, cleaned, melted, and molded. After that the chairs are then assembled, sanded and painted. The final product is really dense and has a striking resemblance with wood in term of touch.
A single school chair is made up of 30 kilos of plastic or the equivalent of 10,000 candy wrappers or equal to 2,181 sando bags or 300 bottles of mineral water. And this is more common plastic wastes that do not end up being dumped in landfills or in canals and waterways! And as if it is not enough in term of environment impact, Winchester adds: “It takes one three-year-old tree to manufacture one school chair. With approximatively 10,000 plastic chairs per month that we make using recycled plastic waste, you do the math.”
On a commercial basis, his company sells a desk for PHP 1,700 for private and public schools, mostly in Metro Manila. “The beauty of this chair is it can last for 20 years” said Winchester. Aside from chairs, they also make pallets and other things such as floor tiles or basketball hoop. In addition, Winchester does not intend to stop here, and Winchester Lemen wants to address the problem of the housing backlog running at 5.7 million units. For this, his company should roll out the first models of a 28-square-meter plastic house, measuring 7 meters long and 4 meters wide. “It will take one day to build and can last for 20 years or so with free replaceable parts,” Winchester says.
Winchester Lemen is a figure as colorful as his chairs. It is difficult to describe the warm and sincere welcome he addresses to his visitors. It is probably best to go visit him, he is an amazing symbol of the Filipino spirit — welcoming, innovative, and optimistic.