LGUs urged to reward environment-friendly businesses

MANILA — The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) is urging local government units (LGUs) to issue ordinances in rewarding establishments that use environment-friendly packaging.

“LGUs can consider issuing respective ordinances on the matter and possibly give incentives,” said NSWMC Secretariat Executive Director Eligio Ildefonso on Wednesday.

The suggestion aims to address the country’s worsening garbage problem, as the country celebrates the Philippine Environment Month this June.

The NSWMC sees the country spewing up to 21.5 million tons of garbage by 2020 from 20.6 million in 2018.

The proliferation of single-use plastic packaging is exacerbating the garbage problem, Ildefonso noted.

“Such packaging comprises about 20 to 30 percent of waste
generated nationwide, so there’s a need for alternative ways of producing and retailing merchandise,” he said.

Aside from degrading land, Ildefonso said discarded plastic packaging materials and products also pollute water bodies, where mostly these end up.

“Beat plastics pollution” is this year’s theme for the annual World Environment Day (WED), the United Nation’s (UN) most important day for encouraging global awareness and action on environmental protection.

The 2018 WED aims to further highlight the urgency to address plastics pollution and refusing what can’t be reused.

The UN noted 13 million tons of plastic leak into oceans annually and pollute the waters.

Plastics kill about 100,000 marine animals each year, the UN warned.

“It’s high time we refrain from using disposable plastic products that are used for minutes but persist in the environment forever,” a press release of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) press last June 3 quoted Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu as saying.

Among the alternative retailing ideas that Ildefonso cited is for retail stores to sell shampoo, powder, household cleaners, and other personal consumption products by just refilling the consumers’ jugs, canisters, and other containers. The retailers can even have refilling stations for these products, which the consumers can readily use.

“In buying shampoo, for example, customers can bring their containers to such stations so store attendants there can fill these with the product in quantities they’ll buy,” he explained.

It’s just like buying rice in markets but with customers bringing their own containers, he noted.

Stores could also implement a self-service policy, requiring customers to do the refilling themselves and pay for the merchandise, he added.

“The point is to help reduce small packaging that customers will just throw away anyway,” he said.

Ildefonso said reusing stores’ and customers’ containers by refilling these when needed will also help lessen the volume of packaging for disposal.

He said refilling stations inside stores can be as simple as tables with household items like canisters containing merchandise
being sold–enabling even neighborhood or “sari-sari” store owners to make their retailing environment-friendly.

“It’s a very good option to selling individually packed products,” he said, adding stores can adopt the same idea for stocking up.

Manufacturers can also install their own refilling facilities inside stores, he said.

The NSWMC is supporting the enactment of legislation requiring extended producer responsibility (EPR), with manufacturers held responsible for the goods they produce.

The target EPR includes manufacturers’ recovery of sold goods’ discarded plastic packaging materials, so there can be less solid waste and pollution in the country, the agency noted.

Citing the 2015 report of Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, the DENR earlier said the Philippines is the world’s third highest source of plastic pollution in global waters, after first and second placers China and Indonesia, respectively.

The exponential use of plastics fanned plastic pollution, so the matter must be addressed, the department noted.

In 1972, the UN General Assembly designated June 5 as World’s Environment Day. The first WED celebration was in 1974 with the theme ‘Only one earth.’ PNA-northboundasia.com