Pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition raised alarm on the proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) bill on plastic packaging waste in Congress, saying that it promotes “greenwashing” and “false solutions” to the problem of plastic use.
“These false solutions are not just a threat to the environment but also a public health concern,” read the coalition’s statement on Monday, June 20. The group said the scheme does not reduce or prevent waste but “contribute to worsening of air pollution.”
Coleen Salamat, Plastic Solutions Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition, said institutionalizing EPR mechanisms is a “welcome development” in the campaign for a plastic-free Philippines, but said the proposed measure in Congress allows plastic polluters “to just continue their wasteful business practices at the expense of the environment and our communities.”
The coalition said “a genuine EPR follows the concept of ‘polluters’ pay principle’ that puts greater responsibility on those who pollute more, such as the plastic industry and producers of fast-moving consumer goods.”
The group said the current EPR bill “is not a precedent that polluters will be held accountable” because it does not penalize producers for prohibited acts on the production, use, distribution, and importation of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging.
A 2019 research by the group Nature Climate Change found that if plastic was a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter in the world.
“We urge President [Rodrigo] Duterte to stay true to the Philippines commitment of 75 percent reduction of domestic emission by 2030,” said Salamat, adding that the country is in a “defining moment for our climate.”
“We need lasting zero waste solutions that do not further contribute to the warming of our planet,” said Salamat.
Congress has earlier ratified a consolidated version of the EPR bill, which compels large or obliged enterprises to establish or phase in extended producer responsibility programs for the plastic packaging of their products.
Salamat, however, said that to effectively reduce plastic waste, the government should not only require the retrieval and recycling of plastics but also regulate their production.