Domestic plastics manufacturers are experiencing a shortage of plastic wastes for recycling due to huge gap in plastic circularity following strict campaigns against the use of plastic materials in the country.
In a statement, the Philippine Plastics Industry Association (PPIA) warned that this situation posed a challenge for the government to increase its recycling rate beyond the 22 percent in 2019.
PPIA President Danny Ngo stressed this as the industry is fighting against the passage of House Bills (HBs) on Single-Use Plastic (SUP) Phase Out and the Plastic Excise Tax Act stressing these bills will not resolve the marine litter problem. Instead, it would only create more serious problems for the country, he said.
“The real solution to the marine litter problem without penalizing the local industries, the Filipino consumers, and the already battered national economy, is the adoption of the World Bank (WB) recommendations to truly realize the circular economy on plastic wastes,” he said.
The March 2021 WB study said the Philippines is losing $790 million to $890 million of material value annually when SUPS are discarded rather than recovered and recycled.
Ngo underscored that transitioning to a circular economy, requires structuralizing and standardizing the system of increasing both the waste recovery up to our recycling rates [to fit in the circularity].
The WB recommends redesigning the form and content e.g., of the SUPs to become more reusable and recyclable, and providing incentives to promote investments in the waste management technologies and facilities to allow more effective and efficient reprocessing of used plastics, among others.
Ngo further pointed that UNEP even mentioned that marine litter is best addressed by rethinking how to design, use and dispose of plastics, or recycle them.
Ngo further said that the industry is very confident it can successfully partake its role on the circularity having been into recycling for more than 40 years now. Numerous innovative breakthroughs have already been achieved that led to the production of inexpensive home items (e.g., pails, plastic basins, clothes hangers, and more) made from 100 percent recycled post-consumer plastic bags that are in the market today.
For instance, he said, the Sentinel Manufacturing Corporation, a member of PPIA is currently upcycling 40 percent of waste sachets into plastic chairs and furniture and various home-based products. This one of its kind innovation is acknowledged by many sectors, including the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“What the country needs right now is a legislative policy that will concretize the goals of circularity. It should likewise promote alternative technologies such as the Waste to Energy, Waste to Fuel, the Waste Plastics as Asphalt Mix, and the DOST’s recycling inventions to address the disposal of residual plastics,” he added.
Most Asian countries, including the Philippines, have been allegedly identified as a major contributor to marine litter globally, but PPIA
said that marine litter is more of a behavioral and waste non-engagement problem.
“This is not only about SUPs, but also on all kinds of waste materials discharged into the coastal or marine environment,” said Ngo.
“Plastics are always seen as the culprit because of their ability to float being lightweight. Yet, they are easily skimmed if taken out. The rests that are unseen may have submerged as waste sediments on the water floors. While encouraging the use of biodegradable or compostable plastics is not only at least three times more expensive for consumers to bear.”
According to Go, starch-based bioplastics plastics, require high temperatures above 50°C (122°F) to completely break down as cited by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in their study on “Single-Use Plastics–A Roadmap for Sustainability”.
Go cited the need to keep plastic and its value in the economy and out of the oceans.
The legislative support that is sought is envisioned to effectively establish, strengthen and synergize the stakeholders’ partnership and collaboration, specifically with the industry.
“This cross-sectoral partnership must veer away the throwaway mentality towards public consciousness on promoting the importance of practicing waste separation, and the 3Rs namely, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Such collaboration may extend in tapping the support of successful countries and the United Nations on how the Philippines could fully blast its plastic circularity potential designed towards attaining the protection of our water bodies and marine ecosystems,” he said.
The PPIA President said that working out the problem of marine litter through a circular economy approach does not only presents clear benefits for the marine environment, but also helps address the resource scarcity and the climate change problem. Subsequently, it has the potential to create jobs in bolstering innovations and market creation.
Finally, Ngo said that addressing the marine litter pollution is every Filipino’s concern and responsibility that can be collectively resolved towards fostering a more sustainable future for our country and our society.