An Extended Producers Responsibility roadmap was released by conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines) on Thursday, highlighting the substantial impact of plastics in our environment and how adopting the EPR scheme can effectively change this worsening plastic problem.
The updated report entitled “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Scheme Assessment for Plastic Packaging Waste in the Philippines”, WWF-Philippines proposes an EPR scheme where the responsibility of implementing the scheme for building high-quality recycling capacity should be assumed by an industry-led, non-profit Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), acting as the system operator, with strict monitoring and control systems carried out by the government.
In the first edition of the EPR study, it was shown that in 2019, the number of plastic items consumed by Filipinos was 2.15 million tons per annum. Thirty-five percent (35%) of the consumed plastics leak into the open environment while 33% are disposed of in sanitary landfills and open dumpsites, with only 9% recycled because of our lack of capacity to recycle both high and low-value plastics.
WWF-Philippines pushes for an EPR scheme as a critical policy tool that holds producers accountable for the full life cycle of their products and packaging. EPR is an environmental policy approach that emerged in the 1990s and is now increasingly recognized globally as a useful tool for accelerating the transition to sustainable waste management and a circular economy. This scheme encourages waste reduction through the elimination of unnecessary packaging of products and the development of more environmentally friendly packaging design.
“We must take collective and immediate action. The proposed EPR scheme aims to build on the country’s current waste management system, integrating ongoing actions, and have collaborative action from various stakeholder groups. This way, we can stop plastic waste leakage in our nature.” says Czarina Constantino, WWF-Philippines’ National Lead for the No Plastics in Nature Initiative.
The proposed EPR roadmap incorporates the existing country’s solid waste management infrastructure such as Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF), junk shops, and recycling facilities that aims to recover recyclable wastes. The informal waste sector, an important contributor to the Philippines’ recycling rate, has also been integrated into the EPR system. Initiatives from the businesses and civil society organizations have been included.
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For the past few years, EPR started gaining traction and support among the policymakers as the House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 9147 also known as the “Single-Use Plastic Products Regulation Act” as the proposed substitute bill for plastics that includes an introductory provision for EPR. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Senate Bill 2425 also known as the “Extended Producers Responsibility Act” is now on its Second Reading.
“The battle against unnecessary plastics will be successful only if we have concerted effort from all stakeholders – supported by an enabling policy environment. Let us therefore strengthen our call for the passing of EPR into law, with good implementation, so that we can stop plastic pollution together,” says Katherine Custodio, WWF-Philippines Executive Director.
The proposed roadmap is part of the No Plastic in Nature Initiative – WWF’s global initiative to stop the flow of plastics entering nature by 2030 through the elimination of unnecessary plastics, doubling reuse, recycling, and recovery, and ensuring remaining plastic is sourced responsibly. Through this initiative, WWF-Philippines has been working with cities on plastic leakage, policymakers to advocate for a global treaty on plastic pollution and EPR, businesses to transition to circular business models, and the general public to campaign and act.
To know more about WWF-Philippines and its initiatives, please visit https://wwf.org.ph/