The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) believes that enacting the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022 requiring companies to establish EPR programs for their plastic packaging would significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste. dumped into streams, rivers and oceans.
The EPR law, which came into force on July 30, also modified the law on the ecological management of solid waste.
William Cuñado, director of the EMB, said the law is a “practical approach to effective waste management, focusing on the reduction, recovery and recycling of waste and the development of environmentally friendly products that defend internationally accepted principles on sustainable consumption and production, the circular economy and full producer responsibility throughout the product life cycle.
Through EPR, obligated companies or through their producer responsibility organizations will have to recover or offset their plastic product footprint generated by 20% in 2023 and 80% by 2028.
Among the plastic packaging covered by the EPR Act are single-layer or multi-layer plastics such as pouches, rigid plastic packaging products such as food and beverage containers, single-use plastic bags, and polystyrene.
Penalties for non-compliance with EPR rights range from 5 to 20 million pesos, or “double the cost of the recovery and diversion of the footprint or its deficit, whichever is greater”.
The law also reconstituted the composition of the National Solid Waste Management Commission and strengthened the functions and duties of the National Ecology Center, in addition to expanding and simplifying tax incentive regimes to encourage stakeholder participation. both for solid waste management and EPR activities.
Earlier, the EMB also expressed support for a proposal to tax the consumption of single-use plastics as a proactive measure to reduce plastic pollution in the country, as suggested by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
“Imposing a tax on single-use plastics is a positive development for the environment in several respects. This can promote the use of reusable packaging, reduce single-use plastic waste and extend the life of sanitary landfills,” Cuñado said.
He said the DENR had been pushing for a similar tax measure to tackle plastic pollution since the previous administration, as it should also incentivize stakeholders to change their behavior towards proper waste management.
However, Cuñado acknowledged that “imposing an additional expense on stakeholders must be reasonable and beneficial.”
“As long as there is an abundant supply of disposable plastics produced, consumers will always use them for convenience. But, if these are taxed, it can motivate the public to opt for reusable or recyclable products, which can lead to waste-free behavior for the betterment of the environment,” Cuñado said.
Since the National Solid Waste Management Commission approved in February 2021 the inclusion of the plastic soft drink straw and the plastic coffee stirrer in the list of environmentally not acceptable products, the EMB organized public consultations on the timetable for the elimination of these single-use plastics.