Senator Cynthia Villar pushed for the implementation of a measure that will reduce plastic wastes by making manufacturers responsible for the entire life cycle of plastic products.
During the public hearing of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources presided over by Villar, she raised the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR) now being practiced in European countries.
Villar noted that EPR is an environmental protection strategy requiring the manufacturers using plastic materials in their packaging to be responsible in recovering the plastic wastes. It may take the form of reuse, buy-back or recycling program. The practice shifts the responsibility for waste management from government to the manufacturers.
“Our plastic waste problem cannot be solved by token CSR. Companies should also do voluntary work or work in convergence with government agencies to significantly reduce prevalence of plastic wastes in our seas,” she said.
Villar said she is considering the amendment of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which failed to reduce plastic wastes despite enactment in 2001.
A University of Georgia study showed that the Philippines ranked third, next to China and Indonesia, among 192 countries surveyed, in terms of estimated volume of mismanaged plastic wastes produced by the population that could potentially enter the seas and oceans.
Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau, agreed that there has to be some responsibility for generators of waste to clean it up.
“We have to also stop them at source. We cannot continue cleaning it up. We need to have measures so that they themselves would reduce the waste that goes out to the ocean,” Lim said.
Further, Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation said “the industry should be made responsible for the products they make up to the end of the lifecycle of their products.”
During the hearing, possible solutions to the solid waste problem were raised such as the recycling of used paper by a manufacturing firm in Pampanga; Villar SIPAG’s recycling of plastic wastes into school chairs and the composting of biodegradable wastes into organic fertilizers; and the processing of residual wastes to be used in manufacturing cements.