The Philippines is known for its so-called “sachet economy,” which allows consumers to purchase smaller quantities of goods at more affordable prices. With around 14 million Filipino families considering themselves poor in the first quarter of 2023, the availability of “tingi” is more important than ever.
Typically, sari-sari stores, or neighborhood shops, serve as the main source of these smaller unit products in the Philippines, offering a range of items from household goods to food staples. Soon, these stores will add a “tingi” version of the popular cooking fuel liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to their range of products.
Local startup Packworks, which offers a business-to-business (B2B) open platform for sari-sari stores, is partnering with clean-fuel provider Pascal Resources Energy Inc. (PREI) to supply refillable LPG canisters to selected micro-retail outlets in the Philippines.
PREI is offering its Gaz Lite product, a 330-gram refillable canister of LPG, which they dub the world’s first of its kind, producing clean, smoke-and-sulfur-free burning fuel. Compared to solid fuel, Gaz Lite saves each household up to 60 hours of cooking time per month and reduces their fuel expenses by 33%.
A wide dealer network of megastore partners of Packworks, located in areas like Cebu, Batangas, Quezon, and other parts of Visayas, will serve as the distribution and refilling hubs for Gaz Lite for the initial rollout. The canister is priced at P145 each, inclusive of deposit, or P65 for every refill. Each canister can last up to five days.
“We are thrilled to be in joint hands with Gaz Lite as this partnership will enable us to expand our impact, transforming the lives of millions of Filipino households, making safer and more affordable cooking fuel a reality, while also contributing to a cleaner, healthier environment,” Packworks co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Bing Tan said.
Addressing the ‘silent killer’
The partnership aims to provide safer and more affordable clean cooking fuel to more Filipino households as a viable alternative to illegally refilled butane canisters or charcoal and wood. Gaz Lite is safe from hazardous chemicals, which could pose health risks, and prevents hundreds of thousands of kilograms of wood from being burned monthly.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly a third of the global population, or 2.4 billion people, still rely on open fires or inefficient stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass from materials like wood, and coal for their cooking needs.
In the Philippines, this same problem persists, with research published in 2021 highlighting around 57% of households in the Philippines continue to cook with solid fuels, including charcoal, wood, and other traditional resources, on a daily basis.
The burning of these types of fuels contributes to household air pollution, which was associated with about 3.2 million fatalities annually in 2020. Exposure to this form of pollution can lead to non-communicable diseases like stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer.
The reason for the prevalence of solid fuels is their affordability. Cleaner alternatives, such as traditional LPG tanks and cooking systems, are too large an investment for the majority of Filipino families.
PREI Chairman and CEO Nelson Par is optimistic that the partnership will help them further their cause to reach more Filipinos to afford clean cooking fuel.
“We believe that Filipinos deserve to have access to safe and affordable clean cooking fuel. With Packworks as our partner, we aim to bridge the gap between affordability, sustainability, and accessibility towards a cleaner, more efficient energy source,” Par said.
Partnering with shared visions and origins
Rooted in advocacy, Packworks and Gaz Lite share a similar founding narrative. Packworks, founded by Tan and co-founders Hubert Yap and Ibba Bernardo, emerged from their drive to improve goods accessibility for remote sari-sari stores during their passion project of delivering solar panels to provinces and far-flung places. On the other hand, Gaz Lite, which was initially established as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity of top LPG company PR Gaz, branched out in 2018 with a mission to provide safer, more affordable clean cooking fuel to a million Filipino households over the next five years.