MANILA, PHILIPPINES — With the continuing battle against plastic pollution in the country, Philippine business leaders highlight their initiatives and show support for the Extended Producer Responsibility.
Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR is an environmental policy approach introduced in the 1990s for accelerating the transition to sustainable waste management and a circular economy and more and more businesses worldwide are on board.
EPR relies on two factors – improvement of product design and recyclability and improvement of waste management systems – and businesses here in the Philippines have stepped up to the challenge, taking sustainability seriously, by working on both upstream and downstream measures to address the plastic crisis.
Coca-Cola Philippines is continuously moving forward with its “World Without Waste” campaign, a global effort of the Coca-Cola Company that aims to successfully recycle used bottles to new ones. In the Philippines, Coca-Cola’s one-billion-peso recycling facility is already nearing completion with a target to be open this year.
Meanwhile, Nestle Philippines which aims to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2021 recently launched its “Tibayanihan” project. This project upcycles used foil packs of its powdered milk into plastic school chairs and tables. This project is for the benefit of elementary schools in the vicinity of Nestlé factories and distribution centers.
On the other hand, Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. is working on its “War on Waste” initiative to accomplish its goal of achieving 100% recyclability in its packaging by 2025. Currently, Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. is working with the government for the release of their new recycled PET bottles.
Unilever Philippines is committed to transforming all of its plastic packaging into a reusable, recyclable, or compostable material. To do this, Unilever Philippines has a “Misis Walastik” campaign, a community-based waste collection program that gives incentives to the people who surrender sachets and other single-use plastics. The program is present in over 370 barangays across Metro Manila and nearby provinces through partnerships with LGUs, private organizations, and other stakeholders in the waste value chain.
NutriAsia also introduced to the public the concept of refilling stations to reduce single-use packaging through its pilot program “Bring Your Own Bote (BYOB)”. People can visit the first BYOB site in Bonifacio Global City and bring their reusable bottles and ask for a refill of NutriAsia products. The company is also looking at expanding the project to other key cities in the Philippines.
Like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Unilever are also looking into recycled plastics rather than relying on virgin plastics for their products and alternative delivery systems and waste collection – creating a more circular economy.
Businesses taking the lead and taking responsibility for their products like what these companies are doing is a great foundation for EPR and something that could be replicated by others but with support from the government in terms of mandatory legislation and proper implementation.
EPR is also gaining traction with legislators in Congress with House Bill 9147 or The Single-Use Plastic Products Regulation Act and Senate Bill 2425 or the Extended Producer Responsibility Act of 2021 which both seek to enact mandatory EPR.
There seems to be continuing progress for the adoption of an EPR scheme in the Philippines. Discussions on the specific EPR model and stakeholder groups roles are being conducted. A recent study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) presented a customized EPR scheme for 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. In their proposed scheme, 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.
The government now faces the task of passing the EPR bill with the implementing rules and regulations. Businesses, on the other hand, continue implementing their solutions to address plastic pollution.
With all this progress, WWF Philippines is releasing a follow-up report in January 2022 which presents a detailed customized EPR model and roadmap for the Philippines to guide and help prepare stakeholders for what could come. We hope this consolidates all these efforts to stop plastic pollution in the Philippines.