DENR: Philippines still third largest source of marine litter

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
DENR: Philippines still third largest source of marine litter
Volunteers and personnel from government agencies conducted a clean-up drive along the shore of Dolomite Beach in Manila Bay on Saturday (September 17, 2022).
STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines remains the world’s third-largest source of marine litter, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).?

Citing a 2021 World Bank study, DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the country’s ranking did not improve.

He, however, disagrees with the findings.

“Personally, I do not agree with the findings considering that in terms of population, we are only 130 million compared to the big countries,” Leones said during the National Recycling Conference at Marriott Hotel Manila in Pasay City yesterday.

“How come the Philippines is the biggest contributor compared to bigger countries in terms of plastic generation?” he asked.

Leones noted that 61,000 metric tons of waste are generated daily, 12 to 24 percent of which are plastic waste.

At least 163 million MT of sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin-film bags are produced every day, he added.

“At least 33 percent of this waste is disposed of in landfills and dumpsites and 35 percent leaked into the open environment and oceans,” he said.

He added that 70 percent of plastics’ material value is lost to the Philippine economy each year, equivalent to a value loss of $790 and $80 million per year.

Recycling facilities in the country are not enough to address plastic waste, Leones said.

“What we really need is recycling of plastics. We need infrastructure for recycling, upcycling and repurposing,” he noted.

The DENR, with the private sector’s help, aims to identify possible technologies that can be implemented or proposed to industries.

The National Recycling Conference serves as a forum for potential investors in building more recycling facilities, Leones said.

He also mentioned the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022, which mandates large companies to manage their plastic waste.

“Last June, only 500 enterprises were able to comply but because of the comprehensive partnership with private sectors, with Nestlé and other sectors, we have increased it to 876 and we are expecting that the number of registrants will increase as we implement our online registration,” he said.

Under the EPR Act, companies with total assets of P100 million and above are required to submit EPR plans, designed to effectively manage plastic waste by eliminating unnecessary packaging of products and using more environmentally friendly and recyclable materials.

Based on Department of Trade and Industry data, he said there are an estimated 4,000 large enterprises in the Philippines.

Leones reiterated the DENR’s call for all covered companies to register under the EPR.

Enterprises are mandated to recover 20 percent of their generated plastic product footprint by the end of 2023 with incremental targets for fulfillment each year until 80 percent is reached by 2028.

Brand owners, product manufacturers or importers of consumer goods who implement EPR initiatives will be eligible for tax incentives.

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