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Produce less plastic to address waste crisis — green groups; DENR issues rules for EPR law 

ANGELES CITY INFO OFFICE

RESOLVING the problem of plastic waste that has been harming the environment must start with reducing the amount of plastic produced for consumer goods, a global network of environmental groups said on Tuesday.  

“We cannot solve that plastic pollution crisis without reducing virgin plastic production, especially single-use plastics,” said Nicholas Mallos, Ocean Conservancy Vice President of Ocean Plastics in a statement.  

Ocean Conservancy published a report in 2015 that largely blamed Asian countries for the plastic pollution problem, but the group retracted the report in July last year, acknowledging the “harm it caused,” according to a statement released by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific.  

GAIA-Asia Pacific, along with Ocean Conservancy, Ecowaste Coalition, and Mother Earth Foundation (MEF)-Philippines have been conducting a waste assessment and brand audit (WABA) as part of the annual International Zero Waste Month.  

Through the WABA, the groups analyze and determine the amount of waste generated by households and cities, and identify consumer brands that accounted for the collected waste.  

“We, at the Global South, have carried the weight and responsibility of waste for too long while our reality and the community solutions we have developed are ignored,” said Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Coordinator.    

For the Philippines, Ecowaste Coalition campaigner Coleen Salamat lamented that the amount of trash, particularly single use plastics, remains overwhelming despite the passage of the Ecological Waste Management Act or Republic Act 9003 more than two decades ago.   

Based on the WABA, Filipinos use more than 163 million sachets and 93 million plastic cups everyday. 

Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement, said the pollution that arises from such plastic usage is rooted in the practices of brand manufacturers.   

“People are not the problem, these consistent top polluters are, and Asian countries are not the cause of plastic pollution but in the fault of corporate polluters and waste colonialism,” said Ms. Salamat in a media briefing on Tuesday.  

Waste colonialism refers to the practice of exporting toxic waste from developed countries to lower-income countries that are “ill-equipped to handle waste.”

Ms. Salamat noted that there are around 500 cities and municipalities in the Philippines with ordinances that ban single-use plastics.

Such initiatives from local governments, he said, indicate that it is possible to implement a national law regulating plastic usage.

EPR RULESMeanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued on Tuesday the implementing rules for a law that mandates large companies to carry out measures for the proper management of plastic packaging wastes.[Text Wrapping Break] 

DENR announced in a statement that it has released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 1198 or the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022. 

Under the law, companies take the responsibilities of “proper and effective recovery, treatment, recycling or disposal” of their product even after they have been sold. 

This includes providing resources “to support the collection, recovery, transportation, processing, recycling, and disposal” of the wastes. 

The EPR law applies to corporations with total assets of over P100 million. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

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