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San Miguel exits plastic bottled water business

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Ramon Ang-SMC
San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang speaks in front of a giant electronic board at the Philippine Stock Exchange during the listing of San Miguel in Manila's financial district on March 30, 2016. -- AFP

SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) will be ending its plastic bottled water business as part of efforts to reduce the company’s impact on the environment.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the diversified conglomerate said it is discontinuing its plastic bottled water line under the brand Purewater. 

“The plastic bottled water business has given us good returns, but we are choosing to forego it in favor of our long-term sustainability goals,” SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang was quoted as saying in a statement.

The decision is in line with the company’s initiative to tackle pressing social and environmental issues amid its diversification into the power, infrastructure, and public utilities and fuels industries, Mr. Ang added.

The company will, however, retain the Purewater brand through its investment in filtration technology, which will be deployed to flooded communities in the instance of calamities to ensure that residents have safe water to drink.

“We are happy to announce that the ‘Purewater’ brand will live on, but not as a plastic water bottle business but through SMC’s investment in filtration technology that will be deployed during calamities to make safe drinking water available to displaced and affected families in lieu of environmentally unsustainable bottled water,” Mr. Ang said. 

Aside from discontinuing its bottled water business, SMC last March announced another sustainability program called “Water for All,” wherein the San Miguel group targets to cut its domestic and utility use of water by half by 2025.

SMC is currently in the process of constructing the P24.4-billion Bulacan Bulk Water project along with Korea Water Resources Corp., which is set to provide treated bulk water to various water districts in Bulacan at a charge of P8.50 per cubic meter. 

The project is under a build-operate-and-transfer agreement, giving the SMC-led consortium the right to finance, design and construct the project and 30 years to maintain the conveyance, treatment facilities, and water source.

“Leaving a business like the plastic water bottle business while at the same time helping build the basic right of all Filipinos to safe and affordable fresh water is a big step to a sustainable future,” Mr. Ang said.

SMC posted an attributable net income of P12.96 billion in the first half of 2017, 47% lower than the P24.53 billion recorded during the same period last year. — Arra B. Francia