Group wants firms to cut plastic production under EPR bill

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2022 12:11 PM

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MANILA – An environmental group said Friday that they want provisions for reducing plastic production included in the extended producer’s responsibility (EPR) bill.

Under the EPR bill, obliged companies "have the responsibility for the proper and effective recovery, treatment, recycling or disposal of their products after they have been sold and used by consumers" to reduce waste generation and improve the recyclability of packaging, according to a Senate press release.

Advocacy groups have been urging the Philippine president to veto the bill, which is now up for his signature. It lapses into law by the end of July if still unsigned by then.

But in the event that the bill is tackled by Congress again, EcoWaste Coalition campaigner Coleen Salamat said manufacturers of consumer brands must be made to cut plastic production entirely, instead of merely ensuring their recovery, treatment, and recycling.

“May clear targets for hindi lang offsetting, but…yung reduction sa production ng single-use plastics. Yun kasi yung patuloy pa rin eh. At nakikita natin ito na magiging leeway ito para maging business-as-usual pa rin yung mga big corporations,” she said.

(We want targets not just for offsetting, but for reducing the production of single-use plastics. Because it keeps on happening. This may be a leeway for big corporations to still go business-as-usual when it comes to plastic pollution.)

“So yung mga big corporations na ‘to sila rin naman yung nata-tag natin as big polluters, polluters na talaga na consistent dahil nagkakaroon tayo ng mga brand audit, sila at sila pa rin naman yung patuloy na lumalabas,” she noted.

(These big corporations are the ones we keep on tagging whenever we have a brand audit, it's always their names that come up.)

A 2021 report by the World Bank said the Philippines was the third largest contributor of plastic pollution, with an estimated 0.75 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic entering the ocean every year.

Salamat also said that a new EPR bill must specify what steps companies should take towards proper waste management.

“Dahil may inclusion ng may mga inclusion ng mga vague o mga broad na mga definition kung paano ang waste management natin, so dahil nga of course ang plastic po ay made of fossi fuels, kapag sinusunog o kapag mine-melt ho, kapag tinutunaw ho ito, mas nagpo-produce po tayo ng greenhouse gases,” she said.

(The current bill includes vague or broad definitions of waste management, but when you burn or melt plastic, we produce more greenhouse gases because plastic is made of fossil fuels.)

Sen. Cynthia Villar has previously said the EPR bill "is not a solution in itself, but it is a move in the right direction." 

"We need to rescue our country from being a marine litter culprit and demonstrate that a developing country can and will make this work," Villar, chairperson of the Senate environment committee, said in January. 

Under the Senate version of the bill, producers, distributors, retailers implementing EPR programs would also be eligible to tax incentives.

On the other hand, fines ranging from P5 million to P20 million were proposed as penalties for failure to comply with the mandated EPR, as well as failure to meet the targets imposed by the bill.

"The EPR bill is not meant to put additional burden to the companies who are plastic packaging wastes generators, but rather it is an acknowledgment and a call for help that plastic waste problem will not be solved without their invaluable cooperation," Villar said.

--TeleRadyo, 15 July 2022