A Catholic parish in the Philippine capital Manila joined environmental activist groups in warning against the passage of laws in Congress that they described as “false solutions” to the climate crisis.
“If there are ‘red flags’ in relationships, there are also red flags to look out for in our waste crisis,” read a statement released by the group during a demonstration at Manila’s Rajah Sulayman Park on February 14.
The Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives earlier passed on third reading the Extended Producer Responsibility Bill, amending Republic Act 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
The House also passed the Waste-to-Energy Bill (WtE) on third reading, while the Senate version is still pending for second reading.
Environmental activist group EcoWaste Coalition and the Malate Catholic Church, however, expressed fear that if the bills are passed into law, it would “exacerbate not just the plastic, but the climate crisis.”
The group warned that while these measures sound promising, these are actually “red flags” or “false solutions.”
“It’s in the nitty gritty,” said Coleen Salamat, plastic solutions campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition.
“If this is the Extended Producer Responsibility version that will be enacted, we’d rather not have it,” she said, adding that without clear targets and timeline on reducing plastic, “our plastic crisis will only get worse.”
She said the current version of the bill “heavily focuses on the downstream approach, recovery and recycling, but not much on redesigning products and innovating business models to eliminate single-use plastics.”
Father John Leydon, chairperson of the group Laudato Si Movement, called for “bolder actions now that we are facing a climate crisis.”
“As we create measures to ease the plastic pollution, we have to make sure it truly solves the problem,” he said.
The priest called for “lasting zero waste solutions, not band-aid measures.”
“We need to wake up. One hundred years ago there was no plastic. Now it’s in the seas, fish, and the whole food chain. It’s even in the human placenta,” said Father Leydon.
The International Pollutants Elimination Network recently released a report criticizing increased recycling rates as an insufficient “solution” to the health and environmental problems caused by the massive overproduction of plastics.
The group, which includes the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed out that “almost all plastics contain toxic chemicals that are not removed during recycling but are carried over to the new products, and the recycling process can even generate new toxic chemicals such as dioxins.”
In its statement, EcoWaste Coalition said not all recycling is environmentally sound, especially those practices involving the incineration of plastics in thermal WtE facilities.
“WtE facilities are unsustainable ‘solutions’ that exacerbate the waste problem,” read the statement.
The coalition said the claim that WtEs is an effective way to eliminate waste is “little more than a bad case of greenwashing.”
“Instead of reducing waste, WtE legitimizes continued extraction from the environment and unsustainable consumerism, while accelerating climate change, polluting the environment, and threatening human health,” said Lievj Alimangohan, senior policy officer of EcoWaste Coalition.