UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – One of Edmund Dimalanta’s employees was sorting waste at a golf course that had hired his company to oversee its waste management when he came upon $1,000 that had been wrapped in a towel and mistakenly disposed of.
“You won’t believe what people throw away,” Dimalanta told a group of Penn State students on Nov. 13 during his lecture “From Trash to Treasure: Sustainability in the Philippines,” hosted by the Schreyer Honors College.
Dimalanta, the founder and CEO of D&G Pacific Corp, which specializes in specializes in ecological waste management and cleaning services, shared his story of trying and failing in numerous business ventures before finding success – and perhaps a calling – in responsible disposal of waste in his native Philippines.
Whether it was seeing grease traps overflowing after his company cleaned restaurants, hearing stories of effluent waste from ships being hauled to nearby islands and dumped there, or realizing that poultry manure laced with chemicals from processing facilities was being dumped into farmers’ land or nearby rivers, Dimalanta described feeling frustrated at a lack of government resources, concerned for the communities in which he lived and worked, and inspired to effect meaningful change.
“We wanted to make sure waste management is handled in a better way,” Dimalanta said.
One of the company’s projects involved cleaning and converting poultry manure into fertilizer. Another was building a machine that was able to convert a good portion of the waste to compost. Dimalanta’s employees collected, sorted, and analyzed all of the waste from that golf course and discovered more than 74% was bio waste. The analysis helped them create a more efficient and sustainable waste management system for the course.
The Penn State students who attended the lecture, which was sponsored by Schreyer Honors College, the Penn State Sustainability Institute, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, were inspired by Dimalanta’s story and his passion.
“You can talk about the technology all day long, or the chemical issues, but really, it’s about the communities they’re in and the people that you get to know,” said Siena Baker, a junior Schreyer Scholar majoring in economics and community, environment, and development. “I always look to initiatives that incorporate listening to local people and bringing in technology.”
Schreyer Honors College Dean Peggy A. Johnson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, was also in attendance and met with Dimalanta earlier in the day.
“It was really interesting to hear about such large-scale sustainability problems and solutions in such a densely populated part of the world,” Johnson said. “Sustainability is a priority for Penn State and for many of our Scholars, so this seminar was well-received.”
Dimalanta, who will speak at the upcoming MIT Water Summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said he is motivated to improve the lives of people in the communities in which he lives and works and encouraged students in attendance to seek out ways to effect change in their communities and do so with the future in mind.
“We’re doing this for the coming generations,” he said. “You guys can do it for us.” About the Schreyer Honors College
The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars total more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth Campuses and represent 38 states and 26 countries. More than 14,000 Scholars have graduated with honors from Penn State since 1980.