SAYING that the globe is in the middle of a climate emergency, Senator Cynthia Villar cited the need to find the strategic interventions to drastically redeem what would have been valuable materials from the waste stream.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, has sponsored Senate Bill No. 2425, under Committee Report No. 328 which refers to “An Act Institutionalizing the Practice of Extended Producer Responsibility on Plastic Packaging Waste. This would amend Republic Act No. 9003, otherwise known as the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000”.
“This measure seeks to incentivize innovation, motivate producers to take charge of the life cycle of their products, clearly defines responsibilities and mandates and allows for better citizen participation in reaching objectives and goals,” stressed Villar.
If done properly, she said that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is also an opportunity, an open door to a thriving industry that pushes us into a circular economy where materials cycle through lives and less land is lost to dumping and waste storage.
“We need to rescue our country from the ill repute of being a marine litter culprit and demonstrate that a developing country can and will make this work,” said the lady senator.
Without an EPR System, She said back trips of trucks and ferries will not care to carry discards for reuse, recycling or processing.
Although those that make the products that become discards in very short spans of time have always had the ethical responsibility, Villar said they do not have the legal responsibility to ensure the recyclability and upscalability of their products and packaging.
“The pandemic has both complicated and multiplied this problem tenfold. Hence, this Chamber has the duty to act decisively and effectively to pass a law that would have a high rate of compliance,” emphasized Villar.
Around the world, she said, there is abundant evidence that EPRs have allowed municipalities and taxpayers to deflect the financial burden of waste management and transferred it to producers.
“More importantly, EPR systems have resulted in decreased volumes of waste for final disposal and ushered in a thriving recycling industry. And many of these companies.that succeeded also market their products here and would likely have little difficulty in merely exporting their success as they export their products and manufacturing.”
She recalled the July 10, 2000 Payatas landslide or the garbage dump collapsed at Payatas, Quezon City which claimed the lives of 218 people.
“A gigantic mountain of garbage first collapsed and then went up in flames which resulted in the destruction of about 100 houses of informal settler families. No less than 218 people perished, not including those unaccounted for in a massive collapse of a mountain of discards. As if that was not enough, the methane emitting waste turned into an inferno,” remembered Villar.
The senator related that it was a horrific reminder that our society was an abject failure at managing our wastes so that the next year, Congress passed the Ecological Solid waste Management Act.
But still, Villar stressed open dumpsites has remained operational. Mixed wastes are being collected in urban areas. She said there is no National Ecology Center and the burden of waste reduction, segregation and management mostly fell into the lap of households and the local governments.
She lamented our country has been notorious, named in several reports as one of the top dischargers of marine plastics. A 2015 University of Georgia study revealed that the Philippines, ranked third, next to China and Indonesia (among 192 countries surveyed), in terms of volume of plastic wastes produced by the population that goes into the ocean.
“And, six years hence from the conduct of that study, it seems that we have not improved our ranking yet,”said Villar.