Press Release
September 30, 2021


Mr. President, my fellow senators, as your Chairperson of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, I am pleased to sponsor today Senate Bill No. 2425, under Committee Report No. 328. This refers to "An Act Institutionalizing the Practice of Extended Producer Responsibility on Plastic Packaging Waste, Amending for this Purpose Republic Act No. 9003, Otherwise Known as the "Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000".

The said Committee Report was prepared and submitted jointly by the Committees on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change; Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship; Ways and Means; and Finance; and Tourism. SB No. 2425 I am sponsoring now is in substitution of Senate Bill Nos. 1331 which I authored and Senate Bill No. 2285 authored by Sen. Revilla, taking into consideration SB No. 40 (authored by Sen. Pangilinan), SB No. 114 (by Sen Binay), SB No. 156 (by Sen Villanueva), SB No. 333 (which I authored), SB No. 557 (by Sen. Pacquiao), SB No. 811 (by Sen Hontiveros), SB No. 880 (by Sen. Lapid), and SB No. 954 (by Sen. Angara).

Mr. President, lest we forget, July 10, 2000 is a day that this country should remember as the day we woke up to our collective and individual contributions to the waste crisis. I am referring to the occurrence of the Payatas landslide or the garbage dump collapse at Payatas, Quezon City, Philippines that transpired on that ill-fated day. A gigantic mountain of garbage first collapsed and then went up in flames which resulted in the destruction of about 100 houses of informal settler families. No less than 218 people perished, not including those unaccounted for in a massive collapse of a mountain of discards. As if that was not enough, the methane emitting waste turned into an inferno.

It was a horrific reminder that our society was an abject failure at managing our wastes. The next year, Congress passed the groundbreaking legislation, Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid waste Management Act. Its Section two contained a declaration of 10 policies, all of which were aimed at being better at reducing wastes.

Unfortunately, we are better at legislation than implementation. Long past the deadlines for many of the mandates under the law, open dumpsites are still operational. Mixed wastes are still being collected in urban areas. There is still no National Ecology Center to speak of and the burden of waste reduction, segregation and management mostly fell into the lap of households and the local governments. Our country has been notorious, named in several reports as one of the top dischargers of marine plastics. A 2015 University of Georgia study revealed that the Philippines, ranked third, next to China and Indonesia (among 192 countries surveyed), in terms of volume of plastic wastes produced by the population that goes into the ocean. And, six years hence from the conduct of that study, it seems that we have not improved our ranking yet.

In the meantime, those that make the products that become discards in very short spans of time, have always had the ethical but not the legal responsibility to ensure the recyclability and upscalability of their products and packaging.

In an archipelago, retrieval of packaging discards is not only messy but also expensive. Without an Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR System, back trips of trucks and ferries will not care to carry discards for reuse, recycling or processing.

The pandemic has both complicated and multiplied this problem tenfold. Hence, this Chamber has the duty to act decisively and effectively to pass a law that would have a high rate of compliance.

The globe is in the middle of a climate emergency, and not only does every individual has the obligation to reduce his or her own footprint, but we must also find the strategic interventions to drastically redeem what would have been valuable materials from the waste stream. Cradle to grave management of products is no longer sufficient. Responsibility must begin at product conceptualization, before it even sees production.

Around the world, there is abundant evidence that EPRs have allowed municipalities and taxpayers to deflect the financial burden of waste management and transferred it to producers. The public costs of hauling and disposal were reduced. More importantly, EPR systems have resulted in decreased volumes of waste for final disposal and ushered in a thriving recycling industry. And many of these companies that succeeded also market their products here and would likely have little difficulty in merely exporting their success as they export their products and manufacturing.

But these results still vary widely among countries and passing this legislation does not mean we should fall back into the trap of non-implementation. This measure seeks to incentivize innovation, motivate producers to take charge of the life cycle of their products, clearly defines responsibilities and mandates and allows for better citizen participation in reaching objectives and goals. Traditional NGO, government and industry members should no longer be antagonistic but must pursue the shared dream of drastic reductions in our waste stream.

If done properly, Extended Producer Responsibility is also an opportunity, an open door to a thriving industry that pushes us into a circular economy where materials cycle through lives and less land is lost to dumping and waste storage.

We need to rescue our country from the notoriety of being a marine litter culprit and demonstrate that a developing country can and will make this work.

In closing, Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, I earnestly seek your support for the swift passage of the Extended Producer Responsibility bill.

Isang maka-kalikasang gabi po sa inyong lahat.

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