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Year’s worth of sachet use in the Philippines can cover entire Metro Manila 1 foot deep in plastic waste

Year’s worth of sachet use in the Philippines can cover entire Metro Manila 1 foot deep in plastic waste

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New quantitative evidence reveals the extent of plastic pollution in the Philippines

Manila, Philippines (March 7, 2019) —Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million sando bags and 45 million labo bags daily. These numbers were revealed in a new report released today by environmental organization Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). The group contends that single-use disposable plastic is the greatest obstacle to sound waste and resource management, and is calling on governments and manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

The report, Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution, uses data from household waste assessments and brand audits (WABA)[1] conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities[2] across the country in the past five years. GAIA extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines. The report is being launched ahead of the UN Environment Assembly meeting next week, where plastic pollution will be discussed.

“Sa aming barangay, ginagawa namin ang lahat para sa maayos na pangangasiwa ng panapon, pero problema talaga ang plastic,” said Mercy Sumilang, a kagawad from Barangay Talayan in Quezon City. “Kung lahat ng pangunahing bilihin ay naka-sachet o plastic napipilitan kami maging bahagi ng pollution. Dapat masolusyonan ito.”

The findings in the report show how cities and municipalities around the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals. Despite efforts on the part of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs, they still struggle with plastics which prevent them from achieving Zero Waste goals. With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

“Cities and municipalities can fight back against plastic pollution using data from waste assessments and brand audits,” said Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation. “Cities can strengthen regulations, improve waste management services, and reduce waste volume and corresponding management costs. They can also use the data to pursue plastic bans or regulations, and to compel companies to acknowledge their liability for plastic pollution.”

According to GAIA, the figures show that the sheer volume of plastic waste generated daily is beyond the capacity of barangays, cities and municipalities to manage, and that the only way to manage single-use plastic is to make less of it. “The problem is the huge amount of single-use plastics being produced—not just the way waste is managed,” said Froilan Grate, executive director of GAIA Asia-Pacific. “Plastic is a pollution problem, and it starts as soon as the plastic is made. Clean-up is left to cities and municipalities who use taxpayers’ money to deal with the waste. Companies create the waste inthe form of plastic sachets, and profit from these, in the millions. They must be made accountable for the pollution.”

According to the report, cities and municipalities deal with a greater number of branded plastic waste (at least 54% of total residual waste) than unbranded waste. Ten companies are responsible for 60%, and four multinational companies are responsible for 36%, of all branded waste collected in the sample sites.

With the absence of a national policy on plastics, some local governments in the Philippines have instituted plastic bag regulations. However, branded plastics that include sachets and other primary packaging used by some of the world’s largest manufacturing companies are not covered by bans. GAIA states that if manufacturers were mandated at the national level to reduce production of throwaway plastic packaging, for example through innovations such as alternative delivery systems or reusable packaging, this would address a large part of the country’s plastic waste problem, including plastic waste leakage to rivers and seas.

“The Philippine case is merely a snapshot of what’s happening in other parts of the world,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement. “This is a global crisis that needs global interventions. We need policies and strong regulations that would ban single use plastics and hold corporations accountable for their role in perpetuating decades of plastic pollution”

The report lays out several recommendations for the Philippine government to effectively address plastic pollution, including: standardizing disaggregated data on plastic packaging in waste assessments, as well as including brand information; instituting comprehensive national plastic bag ban and the regulation of other single-use plastic products; mandating companies to redesign products, packaging and delivery systems; and strengthening the ban on waste incineration. GAIA is additionally calling on manufacturing corporations to be transparent about the plastic packaging they produce, assume accountability and liability for their packaging, and immediately stop producing throwaway plastic packaging. //ends

The report can be downloaded at: http://www.no-burn.org/waba2019

Contact: Sherma Benosa, 0917-815-7570, sherma@no-burn.org

Notes to editors:

[1] Developed by Mother Earth Foundation, WABA is a tool used to obtain detailed information about the types, volume, and number of plastic waste in an area, in order to support strategies to help cities and municipalities deal effectively with solid waste.

[2]  Quezon City, Navotas City, Malabon City, City of San Fernando (Pampanga), Batangas City, Tacloban City, and seven municipalities in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.

Headline explanation: Filipinos discard 163 million plastic sachet packets daily. If each packet were 5cm x 6cm in size and 1mm in thickness, they can be arranged side by side and stacked 312 times (around 1 foot high), covering an area equivalent to the land area of Metro Manila.

About GAIA – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. www.no-burn.org

About MEFMother Earth Foundation (MEF) is a non-profit organization actively engaged in addressing waste and toxic pollution, climate change, and other health, and environmental justice issues in the Philippines. It is best known for its advocacy of Zero Waste through the systematic reduction and proper waste management. www.motherearthphil.org

About BFFP –  #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,400 non-governmental organizations from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. www.breakfreefromplastic.org.

 

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A zero-waste Philippines is possible

A zero-waste Philippines is possible

Five years ago, Presidential Proclamation No. 760, signed by former president Benigno S. Aquino III, officially declared the month of January as Zero Waste Month. The proclamation defined “zero waste” as “an advocacy that promotes designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, and to conserve and recover all resources, and not indiscriminately dispose or burn them.”

Even before the issuance of the proclamation, various nongovernmental organizations in the Philippines have been trying to mainstream zero waste as a goal for our government. In fact, PP 760 traces its roots to the first-ever Zero Waste Youth Convergence organized by Mother Earth Foundation, in which 5,000 youth leaders issued a Zero Waste Youth statement calling for the celebration of a Zero Waste Month.

January was chosen as Zero Waste Month because this was the month when Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, got signed. Many countries around the world have expressed admiration for this landmark Philippine law, as it calls for a decentralized waste and resource management system that also bans waste incinerators.

According to the National Solid Waste Commission, waste in Philippine cities and municipalities is mostly composed of organics (52 percent). Recyclables comprise 28 percent, and residuals (waste that can’t be reused, recycled or composted) 18 percent. Much of the waste (80 percent, which is organics and recyclables combined) can be safely returned to nature or industry without resorting to landfills and incineration.

Through proper segregation, organics can be composted in our homes, schools and offices. In a linear waste management approach, organics are wasted instead of being turned into a resource. Under a zero-waste approach, recyclables are reused and recycled and become a source of livelihood for waste workers as well.

Various cities and towns in the Philippines have shown leadership in implementing the law, hoping to transform into a  zero-waste city. A good model is San Fernando, Pampanga, which achieved a 78-percent waste diversion record (or the amount that was composted or recycled instead of going into the landfill) in 2017, from 12 percent in 2012. Tacloban City was also able to increase the coverage of waste collection but managed to decrease the volume of waste sent into landfills.

However, the work does not end at the local government unit (LGU) level. Many LGUs that have already been implementing zero-waste policies need strong support from national government agencies and legislators. They have the power to enable an environment that supports these policies by enacting laws and supporting the implementation of such laws that can scale up the successes of LGUs doing the zero-waste approach.

For instance, cities like San Fernando, Pampanga, that are trying to reduce nonrecyclable plastic waste through local ordinances cannot implement zero waste effectively unless there is a law at the national level to mandate businesses to stop the production of single-use disposable plastic packaging. Having a national law will ensure that materials such as disposable implements or throwaway sachet packaging are not produced in the first place. Thus, it removes the burden from LGUs to have to manage plastic waste that can neither be recycled nor composted.

With strong political will and robust policies in place, government leaders and an engaged citizenry can transform the Philippines into a zero-waste country. The coming midterm elections is an opportune time to ensure that we are on the right track.

* * *

Froilan Grate is the regional coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives Asia-Pacific. Jed Alegado is the communications officer for Asia-Pacific of #breakfreefromplastic. This article was originally posted in Inquirer.

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“Zero Waste Cities Forum” gathers LGUs to take on plastic challenge

“Zero Waste Cities Forum” gathers LGUs to take on plastic challenge

Officials mull plastic bans and other policies to implement RA 9003, curb plastic pollution

Quezon City, 31 January 2019—Hundreds of local government unit (LGU) officials across the country gathered today in a forum in Quezon City to discuss policies that will help bring an end to plastic pollution—and usher in sustainable, Zero Waste Cities in the Philippines.

The forum, held in celebration of Zero Waste Month this January and organized by GAIA Asia Pacific and Mother Earth Foundation, looked into local and national policy actions aimed at reducing single-use plastic, from material substitution by producers to outright bans in cities. Speakers from different countries also showcased success stories of Zero Waste initiatives from the European Union and other parts of the globe, as well as in the Philippines.

Zero Waste is the key to solving the country’s waste problems,” said Froilan Grate, Executive Director of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific. “When city planners put Zero Waste into action, they can establish resilient and sustainable cities, help fulfill Sustainable Development Goals, comply with RA 9003, and transition to a sustainable circular economy.”

The proliferation of single-use plastic is one of the biggest drivers of plastic pollution. Environmental groups contend that waste should not be addressed through harmful end-of-pipe systems such as landfills and waste incinerators, but through Zero Waste systems. Zero Waste approaches address waste and resources throughout their entire lifecycle—from production to end-of-life—with the goal of waste prevention and resource conservation. In the Philippines, Zero Waste principles are at the core of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or Republic Act (RA) 9003, a landmark law on resource and waste management.

At the forum, GAIA Asia Pacific launched the report “Enabling sustainable cities through Zero Waste: A guide for decision- and policy-makers.” Although RA 9003 was signed into law in 2001, many cities and municipalities are still struggling with compliance. GAIA believes that there is a lack of information available to local and national government officials about practical strategies and policies that can help them fully implement RA 9003. The paper aims to give local government leaders and national lawmakers recommendations for policies that put Zero Waste in action and effectively implement RA 9003 while demonstrating that Zero Waste is both practical and achievable.

Several local governments are already pioneering Zero Waste programs through cost-effective investments in decentralized waste collection, composting, recycling markets, and waste management infrastructure. Experiences of Philippine cities have shown that as long as the right strategies are in place, cities can set up Zero Waste systems that will enable successful implementation within a period of as short as six months, while also achieving significant savings in waste management costs.

However, cities continue to struggle in managing non-recyclable waste, mostly single-use plastics such as sachets and other packaging. The cities of San Fernando in Pampanga, and San Carlos in Negros Occidental, for example, are implementing strict and effective plastic bag and styrofoam regulations, but these remain a problem.

Marietta Lomocso of San Carlos City’s Environmental Management Office, shared: “With strong political will and stakeholder engagement, our plastic regulation reduced residual waste by half.” But, she said, challenges persist. “Businesses from neighboring cities bring in plastic packaging because they are not familiar with our plastic regulation. And, we still need to deal with the remaining 50% non-recyclable waste that we collect.

GAIA maintains that businesses need to be part of the solution of reducing plastic waste by not producing single-use packaging and items in the first place. Leaders in national government agencies must also realize they have a crucial role to play by enabling strong policy support at the country level; for example, through mandating extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies, and a national ban on single-use plastics.

Delphine Lévi Alvarès of Zero Waste Europe shared the experience in the European Union (EU) where similar policies are being implemented at a regional level. Europe’s shift to a sustainable circular economy is mandating member countries to pursue reduction, reuse, and recycling as priority actions for waste management. Lévi Alvarès said that more than 400 cities and municipalities in the EU have commitments to become Zero Waste Cities.  She also explained that producers are obliged by law to cover the costs of plastic waste management and that certain single-use plastics are being phased out as the region pursues a sustainable circular economy. “Zero Waste initiatives in countries like the Philippines are sending a strong message to Europe that the plastics issue must be addressed at the global level. Major manufacturing industries based in Europe and other countries in the global north should eliminate single use plastics in all regions where they work, including Asia.” she said.

GAIA’s Zero Waste Cities Forum is part of several collaborative dialogues among local government officials in the Asia Pacific region to share experiences about Zero Waste implementation strategies. Outside the Philippines, several cities in the region have hosted, or expressed their interest to host, their own Zero Waste Cities events, including Bandung, Indonesia (Zero Waste Cities Conference 2018) and Penang, Malaysia (Zero Waste Cities Conference 2019 later in the year). GAIA, in partnership with grassroots organizations, has been supporting cities in pursuing ecological strategies to promote segregation and reduce waste volumes, specifically plastic pollution, to reduce and eventually eliminate dependence on harmful end-of-pipe waste disposal systems.##

The report “Enabling sustainable cities through Zero Waste: A guide for decision- and policy-makers.” is available here

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA-AP, +63 917 815 7570, sherma@no-burn.org

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is a global network of more than 800 grassroots groups, NGOs and individuals. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. We work to catalyze a global shift towards ecological and environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. www.no-burn.org

Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) is an NGO that works to promote education and awareness of the people on environment protection and proper waste management, reduction of waste, segregation at source composting and recycling towards a zero waste society. http://www.motherearthphil.org/

 

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“Zero Waste Cities Forum” gathers LGUs to take on plastic challenge

“Zero Waste Cities Forum” gathers LGUs to take on plastic challenge

Officials mull plastic bans and other policies to implement RA 9003, curb plastic pollution

Quezon City, 31 January 2019—Hundreds of local government unit (LGU) officials across the country gathered today in a forum in Quezon City to discuss policies that will help bring an end to plastic pollution—and usher in sustainable, Zero Waste Cities in the Philippines.

The forum, held in celebration of Zero Waste Month this January and organized by GAIA Asia Pacific and Mother Earth Foundation, looked into local and national policy actions aimed at reducing single-use plastic, from material substitution by producers to outright bans in cities. Speakers from different countries also showcased success stories of Zero Waste initiatives from the European Union and other parts of the globe, as well as in the Philippines.

Zero Waste is the key to solving the country’s waste problems,” said Froilan Grate, Executive Director of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific. “When city planners put Zero Waste into action, they can establish resilient and sustainable cities, help fulfill Sustainable Development Goals, comply with RA 9003, and transition to a sustainable circular economy.”

The proliferation of single-use plastic is one of the biggest drivers of plastic pollution. Environmental groups contend that waste should not be addressed through harmful end-of-pipe systems such as landfills and waste incinerators, but through Zero Waste systems. Zero Waste approaches address waste and resources throughout their entire lifecycle—from production to end-of-life—with the goal of waste prevention and resource conservation. In the Philippines, Zero Waste principles are at the core of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or Republic Act (RA) 9003, a landmark law on resource and waste management.

At the forum, GAIA Asia Pacific launched the report “Enabling sustainable cities through Zero Waste: A guide for decision- and policy-makers.” Although RA 9003 was signed into law in 2001, many cities and municipalities are still struggling with compliance. GAIA believes that there is a lack of information available to local and national government officials about practical strategies and policies that can help them fully implement RA 9003. The paper aims to give local government leaders and national lawmakers recommendations for policies that put Zero Waste in action and effectively implement RA 9003 while demonstrating that Zero Waste is both practical and achievable.

Several local governments are already pioneering Zero Waste programs through cost-effective investments in decentralized waste collection, composting, recycling markets, and waste management infrastructure. Experiences of Philippine cities have shown that as long as the right strategies are in place, cities can set up Zero Waste systems that will enable successful implementation within a period of as short as six months, while also achieving significant savings in waste management costs.

However, cities continue to struggle in managing non-recyclable waste, mostly single-use plastics such as sachets and other packaging. The cities of San Fernando in Pampanga, and San Carlos in Negros Occidental, for example, are implementing strict and effective plastic bag and styrofoam regulations, but these remain a problem.

Marietta Lomocso of San Carlos City’s Environmental Management Office, shared: “With strong political will and stakeholder engagement, our plastic regulation reduced residual waste by half.” But, she said, challenges persist. “Businesses from neighboring cities bring in plastic packaging because they are not familiar with our plastic regulation. And, we still need to deal with the remaining 50% non-recyclable waste that we collect.

GAIA maintains that businesses need to be part of the solution of reducing plastic waste by not producing single-use packaging and items in the first place. Leaders in national government agencies must also realize they have a crucial role to play by enabling strong policy support at the country level; for example, through mandating extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies, and a national ban on single-use plastics.

Delphine Lévi Alvarès of Zero Waste Europe shared the experience in the European Union (EU) where similar policies are being implemented at a regional level. Europe’s shift to a sustainable circular economy is mandating member countries to pursue reduction, reuse, and recycling as priority actions for waste management. Lévi Alvarès said that more than 400 cities and municipalities in the EU have commitments to become Zero Waste Cities.  She also explained that producers are obliged by law to cover the costs of plastic waste management and that certain single-use plastics are being phased out as the region pursues a sustainable circular economy. “Zero Waste initiatives in countries like the Philippines are sending a strong message to Europe that the plastics issue must be addressed at the global level. Major manufacturing industries based in Europe and other countries in the global north should eliminate single use plastics in all regions where they work, including Asia.” she said.

GAIA’s Zero Waste Cities Forum is part of several collaborative dialogues among local government officials in the Asia Pacific region to share experiences about Zero Waste implementation strategies. Outside the Philippines, several cities in the region have hosted, or expressed their interest to host, their own Zero Waste Cities events, including Bandung, Indonesia (Zero Waste Cities Conference 2018) and Penang, Malaysia (Zero Waste Cities Conference 2019 later in the year). GAIA, in partnership with grassroots organizations, has been supporting cities in pursuing ecological strategies to promote segregation and reduce waste volumes, specifically plastic pollution, to reduce and eventually eliminate dependence on harmful end-of-pipe waste disposal systems.##

The report “Enabling sustainable cities through Zero Waste: A guide for decision- and policy-makers.” is available at http://www.no-burn.org/policy-paper/

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA-AP, +63 917 815 7570, sherma@no-burn.org

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is a global network of more than 800 grassroots groups, NGOs and individuals. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. We work to catalyze a global shift towards ecological and environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. www.no-burn.org

Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) is an NGO that works to promote education and awareness of the people on environment protection and proper waste management, reduction of waste, segregation at source composting and recycling towards a zero waste society. http://www.motherearthphil.org/

 

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ZERO WASTE MONTH:  Thousands march for clean air to protest pending bills on waste incineration

ZERO WASTE MONTH: Thousands march for clean air to protest pending bills on waste incineration

Quezon City, 29 January 2019—As National Zero Waste Month draws to a close, thousands of individuals from different environment, religious, and other civil society groups marched today around the Quezon City Elliptical Circle to demand the responsible government agencies to protect our right to clean air and healthy ecology, and to register the groups’ dissent on the pending bills on Senate promoting waste incineration.

The Walk for Clean Air called on the government officials and lawmakers to uphold the ban on waste incineration enshrined in the Clean Air Act (RA 8749) and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003). The groups were reacting to recent policies and positions of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, Public Works and Highways, and Science and Technology, which contravene the ban. The peaceful walk was held as the Philippine Senate sets public hearings on House Bill 6893 and Senate Bills 2076 and 506, which all seek to repeal the ban and facilitate the entry of waste incineration into the country. The groups contend that waste incineration is an unsustainable system for managing waste and resources, negatively impacting people’s health and livelihoods, the environment and climate, and the economy.

Waste picker and community member Joan Amitan of Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Mamamayan ng Longos (NLML) said that building waste incineration facilities will paralyze their families’ income. “Sumasali po kami sa martsang ito para tutulan ang pagpapatayo ng mga mapaminsalang waste incinerators. Maliban sa mga panganib na maaari nitong maging sanhi sa aming komunidad at sa aming pang-araw araw na ikinabubuhay, binabalewala rin nito ang aming kontribusyon sa epektibong pagpapatupad ng segregation ng mga basura,” said Amitan of NLML.

Aside from the threats to the livelihood of the people, communities who marched during the said activity reiterated the threats of putting up waste incinerators to our climate and to the health of the people.

“Typhoons and other human-induced disasters have been devastating our country ever since time immemorial. By putting up waste incinerators, we are just intensifying our vulnerability by adding more harmful pollution in the environment,” said No Burn Pilipinas Campaign Manager Glenn Ymata.

No Burn Pilipinas said that by strengthening the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, our government can lead us to an environmental and sustainable approach in managing our wastes.

“The leaders of our government are not just expected to make promises to their constituents. It is part of their mandate to implement and execute the laws enshrined in our constitution and it is about time they give importance to the only thing that is left free for the people—the air we breathe,” Ymata added.

Ymata also called out government officials who have pending waste incineration proposals in their areas. “Despite the presence of the provisions that prohibit waste incineration in RA 9003 and RA 8749, these local unit leaders still have the guts to propose putting up such harmful facilities. This is nothing but a disservice to their people and a clear violation of the law,” he said.

Waste-to-energy incineration has already been proposed in Manila and Iloilo. Recent proposals also surfaced in Baguio, Quezon City, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Cebu City, and in Davao City. No Burn Pilipinas note that these proposals are illegal and that government officials should not be encouraging the violation of national laws.

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition said it is “zero waste or zero votes.” Lucero mentioned that if leaders running for the congress seats still refuse to adopt zero waste approaches for their areas, said groups will aggressively call for zero votes for them for the upcoming national elections.

“We are calling on the senators, especially Senate President Tito Sotto, to read up on our laws and reject all policy proposals and amendments that will violate our current laws protecting the clean air including his bill to overturn the incineration ban. These bills are business proposals for harmful facilities, and are not alternative solutions that protect the interests of the Filipino people,” Ymata concluded.

###

No Burn Pilipinas is an alliance of civil society groups who are advocating Zero Waste technologies and are calling on the government to uphold the ban on waste incineration. The vision of No Burn Pilipinas is a Philippines free of waste incineration and pursuing the Zero Waste approach, and where the linear economy has been replaced by a sustainable and just circular model. The vision ensures that the health and well-being of communities are safeguarded and the environment protected.

 

FOR INQUIRIES:

Glenn Ymata, 0917 837 7625: Senior Program Officer

Zaira Baniaga, 0939 707 1589: Media Liason

 

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