Citing the urgency for the country to rescue the Philippines from the tag of ‘marine litter culprit,’ Sen. Cynthia A. Villar said they count on the Solid Waste Management of the Philippines (SWMP) to continue doing this task.
“With your expertise in solid waste management, you could do a lot in helping in the reduction of our solid wastes,” said Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources.
“With your help, let us strive towards our common aspiration to live in a healthy environment that will likewise benefit the future generations,” added Villar.
The senator was the Guest Speaker during the Solid Waste Management of the Philippines Conference 2022 (SWAPPCon 2022) with the theme “Disaster Waste Management,” organized by the Solid Waste Management Association of the Philippines Inc.
In cooperation with the Iloilo City government, it was held at Zuri Hotel in Iloilo.
Villar acknowledged that solving our problem of overwhelming plastic waste became urgent because a 2015 University of Georgia report ranked the Philippines as the world’s third largest source of plastic waste leaking into the ocean, next to China and Indonesia.
The report places at 75% of our collected trash going back to the environment as mismanaged garbage.
Considering how difficult it is to collect trash from an archipelago of thousands of islands, and bring them to accredited and well managed landfills, she branded as “travesty ” the reentry into the environment of already-collected trash.
As a lawmaker, Villar noted that she has been rallying the national government, local govenrment units (LGUs), communities and the private sector to improve waste management via composting.
In fact, being as Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Finance and in charge of the budget of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the 18th Congress, she had convinced the Bureau of Soil and Water Management (under DA) and the Environmental Management Bureau (under DENR) to purchase and distribute composting facilities to LGUs nationwide to encourage them to institutionalize composting as part of efficient waste management practice.
She emphasized that composting, along with other efficient waste management practices, has allowed her hometown- Las Pinas City. to have the lowest expense in waste management among the cities in Metro Manila. The city saves around 300 million pesos annually from recycling 75% of their wastes, which savings go to social services, health centers, schools and other developmental programs for the people.
To further help in the reduction of plastic wastes, the senator principally authored the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022 or Republic Act No. 11898, which lapsed into law.
Villar related that the EPR Act mandates large enterprises to be responsible for the proper and effective recovery, recycling or disposal of the plastic packaging on their products after the same have been sold and used by consumers.
“I believe that many large enterprises have long begun designing their business practices around sustainability. But while these enterprises adopted the EPR framework as their ethical responsibility, it is about time that we turn this ethical responsibility into a legal one with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Law,” said Villar.
The DENR, she said, has timely finished the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and “they are just polishing it, but it will be ready in time to be rolled out within the month.”