Impact Hub Manila Fellowship

Uling From Dropling

As grilled food is a staple in many households, Metro Manila has an insatiable hunger for charcoal. The demand for it is so high that the forests are being cut down to produce charcoal, reducing the forest cover drastically and affecting our watersheds. Cutting trees in a designated watershed or National Park is illegal, yet it gives livelihood to people who live at the fringes of society.

Who faces this problem?

Everybody faces this problem. Forest denudation is not selective of its victims, it affects all of us. If we lose the forest cover, floods will inundate our cities, and our potable water suppl will be critical. If under the new administration, enforcement of the law (cutting trees and making them into charcoal is illegal) is upheld, Metro Manila will have a charcoal shortage and people will turn to other fuel alternatives. 

How does your idea address this problem?

The Uling From Dropling Project will provide a sustainable way of producing charcoal. Basically, dropped biomass such as fallen twigs, leaves and dried leaves and grass will be utilized to make charcoal briquettes, after being ground and set with a binder. Current charcoal makers need not cut down trees, thereby saving the forests, and the cities will have a regular supply of charcoal.

What’s new and unique about your idea?

This is a community based project that seeks to help the local people living in the watershed areas, and provide them a means of livelihood without harming the environment. It makes use of fallen biomass, which costs nothing, and in saving the trees, you have a steady supply of dropped biomass. A machine will be developed to grind the mass, which will be mixed with a binder and then set in molds. The ultimate goal is to save the forests and that in itself will cure many environmental problems and disasters, from adequate water supply to the cities, to checking inundating runoff of water that causes much flooding.


How are you going to earn money?

Charcoal is a commodity that is very much in demand, hence there is no shortage of buyers for this staple. Customers would be food outlets that depend on charcoal, such as the roasted pig and chicken outfits. Restaurants and itinerant vendors serving grilled food are also prime users, as are most households in the Metro. The costliest item would be the Grinding/Mixing/Molding machine, and after that the raw materials are basically free. This will be a community-based project, providing livelihood for the people, giving them a chance to earn money through better means.

Do you already have customers?

None yet, this is still at the brainstorming stage.

Who is in your team?

Leonard Soriano and Jojo Gutierrez, all three of us are staunch environmentalists, and members of the UP Mountaineers. We are experienced in reforestation of watersheds such as the Ipo Dam watershed, where we have been successful in replanting trees and keeping them alive and thriving where many other groups have failed.

Have you already founded/incorporated your company?


What is the intended positive impact on the environment and/or society of your venture?

The ultimate goal is to save our forests, keeping them alive so that the cities will have an adequate supply of water, prevent flooding disasters, and somehow battle climate change. The impact on society will be felt as we can provide a viable means of livelihood to people who live at the fringes of society.

How will the Fellowship Program enable you to achieve your ambitions?

This will provide much needed capital for the project. Also, it will train us on the business aspect of the project.

Are you living in the Philippines?


edited on 5th July 2016, 06:07 by Pio Fortuno Jr.

Deesha Chandra Jul 6, 2016

I like that fact that the idea provides a form of employment aswell. What are the initial challenges to get this project going?

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Priya Thachadi Jul 13, 2016

Very interesting idea. If we can replace or even reduce the use of charcoal, it would be fantastic. There have been quite a few models tried in Africa and India - do explore them.

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Jeremie Diaz Jul 13, 2016

The use of alternative fuel is very promising in the energy industry. I would like to expand further the potential market for your charcoal. It would be helpful to distinguish rural and urban markets. What´s the landscape like in both market based on your research?

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