A proposal filed by Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar is seeking to advocate a zero waste lifestyle by effectively shifting recycling costs from consumers to producers, known as extended producer responsibility (EPR).
House Bill 8691 or the proposed Extended Producer Responsibility Act of 2021 aims to require producers to manage the impacts of their products throughout their entire life cycle, including take-back, recycling and proper disposal. The EPR concept shifts the responsibility to importers and brand owners for the environmental impacts of their plastic products and packaging, which will effectively tackle the plastic problem.
“This may be a new concept for us but this practice has already been observed by several organizations worldwide. As we introduce this concept, we heighten the importance of waste segregation among households and hold manufacturers accountable for the their post-consumer items and packaging,” said Villar.
Under the measure, producers are required to adopt producer responsibility schemes for the proper management of wastes generated from their discarded containers and packaging materials. Incentives also await firms that adopt extended producer schemes.
“Through this measure, we intend to advance awareness on EPR programs although some private organizations and business entities have already adopted such mechanisms in some areas. Also, we are hopeful that Filipinos will pool their used plastic and packaging materials and learn to increase the recycling rate, reuse, or dispose of them at the cost of the manufacturers,” Villar added.
Villar added that the measure, if passed into law, will also help local governments that pay hefty amounts annually for solid waste disposal, and such funds could be used for more social programs.
For example, some private entities are making plastic chairs which are done by upcycling plastics, and ecobricks made from plastic wrappers, broken glass and ceramic pieces.
Plastic waste makes up a significant share of the overall generated waste in the Philippines. In fact, the Philippines is the third biggest polluter next to China and Indonesia. It produces 2.7 million metric tons of plastic waste each year.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, Filipinos consume a yearly average of 20 kilograms of plastics and about 15 kilos of which becomes waste. Insufficient recycling capacities for high value recyclables (i.e. PET, PP, HDPE) and the high volume of low value plastics (including sachets) are factors that affect the country’s low plastic recycling rate, at only 9%. The report further estimates that the Philippines leaks about 35% of plastic wastes into the environment.
Environment group Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives revealed in its report that one of the biggest contributors to the growing plastic problem is the proliferation of single-use plastics such as sachets as they are perceived to be inexpensive but very difficult to recycle and manage. Every day, almost 48 million shopping bags are used throughout the Philippines, to an aggregate 17 billion per year. Separately, around 16.5 billion of smaller and thinner transparent plastic bags, known as “labo” bags, are used per year.
“We need to act now and support this legislation. Plastic waste is not only a problem in our country but also around the world that threaten our marine life, ecosystem and the environment. We have to step up awareness to bring up our recycling rate and moving to a greener lifestyle such as bringing our own packaging or reusable ecobags when buying,” Villar said.