'Polluter friendly': Duterte urged to veto bill on management of plastic waste

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 27 2022 02:31 PM

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An environmental group is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to veto a bill mandating consumer brands to manage plastic waste, saying the "polluter friendly" measure would not tackle the mounting crisis.

Von Hernandez, global coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, said the bill that sought to institutionalize the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme that was ratified by Congress in May would only provide "false solutions".

"They say it's a compromised bill but unfortunately, I think it's polluter friendly," he told ANC's "Rundown" Monday.

"This law will institutionalize a practice that is already faulty to begin with, and which is why we are calling on President Duterte and maybe the incoming administration to veto this bill because it will not really significantly impact the reduction of pollution of plastics in the country."

Under the EPR, 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. 

Based on the latest data from the World Population Review, the Philippines ranked first among countries in 2021 that released the most plastic into the ocean. 

The Philippines also placed third in the list of countries with the most plastic pollution.

A new Reuters investigation has flagged the use of plastics in countries like the Philippines, saying sachets are helping fuel a global waste crisis.

Sachets made of plastic and aluminum are almost impossible to destroy and end up littering neighborhoods, clogging waterways, and harming wildlife, the report said. 

Citing studies, Hernandez said less than 10 percent of all plastics produced worldwide have only been recycled. Majority end up in landfill, into the ocean or in environment, he added.

"The key really is to stop production because right now we're already overflowing with plastic waste," Hernandez said. "It's showing up in our water, in our food, in our blood as microplastics."

Sen. Cynthia Villar earlier 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.