The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines on Wednesday proposed a scheme that will hold manufacturers accountable for the end-of-life impacts of their plastic products and packaging.

trash - WWF points out concerns on PH use of plastic products
(PIXABAY / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In the WWF report titled “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Scheme Assessment for Plastic Packaging Waste in the Philippines, which was released on Wednesday, it showed that Filipinos consume a yearly average of 20 kilograms (kg) of plastics, from which 15.43 kg/cap/year becomes waste. 

Moreover, it noted that insufficient recycling capacities for high value recyclables, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and the high volume of low value plastics, including sachets are factors that affect the country’s low plastic recycling rate, which is just  9 percent.

The report further estimated that the Philippines leaks about 35 percent of plastic wastes into the environment.

These waste reduction and management conditions shaped the proposed customized EPR scheme in the Philippines. 

It proposes a mandatory EPR scheme for all product packaging with a three-year transition phase for obliged businesses to redesign their product packaging and eliminate unnecessary plastics. 

For this customized EPR scheme to work, the report emphasized that the responsibility of implementing the scheme for building high-quality recycling capacity should be assumed by a non-profit Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), acting as the system operator, with strict monitoring and control systems carried out by the government.

“We in WWF believe that a mandatory EPR system is a way for businesses to be more engaged in eliminating unnecessary plastics through eco-design and strengthening waste management by being responsible for the end of life impacts of their plastic packaging,” said Czarina Constantino, WWF-Philippines’ national lead for the No Plastics In Nature Initiative and project manager for Plastic Smart Cities.

“It is a driving mechanism for businesses to transform their models and push for circular solutions to reduce plastic generation including refilling and ultimately to eliminating leakage of plastic in nature. Adopting the EPR scheme in the Philippines is a great driver for us to stop plastic pollution,” she pointed out.

Facilitating partnerships among relevant stakeholders, most notably the government and the private sector, WWF-Philippines advocates for the adoption of the EPR scheme in the country to stop plastic pollution.

“Addressing plastic pollution requires both upstream (production/pre-consumption) and downstream measures (consumption and post consumption). Working on the entirety of the plastic life cycle, stakeholder collaboration is important in both reducing the production and the consumption of unnecessary plastic, and also in managing plastic products and packaging, ensuring that materials are used as long as possible in our society,” said WWF-Philippines’ executive director Joel Palma.

Nestlé Philippines, one of the leading producers of fast-moving consumer goods in the country, encouraged fellow stakeholders to do their part for nature by supporting the localized EPR scheme.

“At Nestlé, we believe that tackling plastic waste cannot be successfully achieved by a single or linear solution. It requires the attention and action of different stakeholders. We must look into different options both upstream and downstream, and take a holistic approach as we continue accelerating our initiatives to tackle plastic waste and EPR is a major instrument,” Nestlé Philippines SVP and head of corporate affairs and communications Arlene Tan-Bantoto said.

“We support the creation of a localized EPR scheme that we believe can help increase collection and recycling rates. We cannot achieve this alone, we must work together, to achieve a waste-free future,” she added.

The study is part of the No Plastic in Nature Initiative, WWF’s global initiative to stop the flow of plastics entering nature by 2030 through elimination of unnecessary plastics, doubling reuse, recycling and recovery, and ensuring remaining plastic is sourced responsibly. 

Through the initiative, WWF-Philippines has been working with cities on plastic leakage, policy makers to advocate for a global treaty on plastic pollution, businesses to transition to circular business models, and the general public to campaign and act.

In a recent study, it has been estimated that about 11 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean every year. If no action is made, this can triple by 2040 which is equivalent to 50 kg of plastics for every coastline meter worldwide.

The Philippines, based on a 2015 modelling study, has been considered as one of the 10 top countries contributing to plastic pollution.

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