ADVOCATES of a toxic-free environment welcome the initiative of the government in investing in climate-neutral approaches and direction toward a circular economy. However, BAN Toxics Inc. said a more sustainable approach to address the concerns of overproduction and consumption is needed as the country embarks on the full implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law, particularly on plastic packaging waste.
BAN Toxics Policy Development and Research Head Jashaf Shamir A. Lorenzo issued the statement in reaction to recent policy pronouncements of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) serves as the lead responsible agency and has released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11898.
As DENR chief, Yulo-Loyzaga is spearheading the campaign to enjoin big companies to implement waste-recovery programs to reduce plastic waste production. Recently, the DENR chief also announced the move to explore co-processing with cement companies to make use of plastic waste as fuel in the production of cement.
“While the EPR law focuses on waste management, particularly on waste reduction, recovery and recycling, and circularity in plastics, it should be complemented with interventions and solutions that address the full lifecycle of plastic,” Lorenzo was quoted in a statement as saying.
“The implications of the existing EPR model, which primarily centers on the end-of-life phase, must be taken into account. We don’t want to end up incentivizing producers, distributors, and retailers with tax deductions and fiscal incentives for recovery schemes that include ‘thermal treatment’ and ‘pollutive’ waste diversion and disposal technologies such as incineration, pyrolysis, or waste-to-fuel,” he explained. “There is a clear necessity to amplify efforts to cover the entire lifecycle of plastics, from the extraction of the raw materials, and promoting the eco-design of products, to reducing and minimizing waste generation during the production process to enhance the efficacy of the legislation.”
The group believes “reducing plastic use is the most effective means of avoiding plastic waste. Therefore, EPR implementation must be guided by principles of sustainable production, consumption, and zero waste to reduce plastic use substantially. Strengthening it requires addressing the plastic governance across its lifecycle, with a priority on upstream solutions.”
“Our policies and regulations would benefit from a systems change approach to tackle the root causes of plastic pollution. A significant reduction in plastic use could be achieved by focusing on redesigning products based on their societal function and transitioning towards sustainable plastic alternatives. We need stronger commitments from the industry to move away from non-ecologically acceptable packaging towards more sustainable alternatives and innovations.”
According to BAN Toxics, banning single-use plastics, which are primarily derived from plastic packaging, is a practical solution to prevent plastics from burdening waste management systems.
“Banning has been shown to prevent tons of plastics from entering the waste stream and coastal pollution, as demonstrated by local and global practices,” said BAN Toxics.
The group noted that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. urged Congress in his second State Of the Nation Address to pass a law that will impose excise taxes on single-use plastics instead of banning them. Numerous bills and resolutions have been introduced in both chambers of Congress aiming to ban single-use plastics without significant progress.
The EPR law (RA 11898) represents the first amendment to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
BAN Toxics has been engaged in international negotiations pertaining to a legally binding global plastics treaty to end plastic pollution. “It is important that this global plastic treaty addresses plastic production at its core and incorporates provisions to freeze and phase down plastic production.”
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