DENR Urges Public Involvement to Combat Plastic Pollution in the Philippines

PASAY CITY - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) emphasized the urgent need for public engagement to tackle the growing issue of plastic waste in the Philippines, reporting an annual production of approximately 2.7 million tons of plastic waste.

According to Philippines News Agency, who spoke at the Earth Day Every Day project launch, a significant portion of this waste ends up in harmful locations such as landfills, dumpsites, rivers, and even the country's water supply systems.

Yulo-Loyzaga highlighted the alarming fact that about 20 percent of the nation's plastic waste ultimately contaminates the ocean. She remarked on the comprehensive challenges posed by plastic waste, noting that it includes everyday items from market packaging to food wrappers, totaling about 61,000 metric tons of solid waste produced daily in the country. The upcoming 2024 Earth Day celebration, themed 'Planet vs. Plastics,' aims to raise awareness about the enduring nature of plastics and their severe implications for public health, ecosystem viability, and climate change mitigation efforts.

The DENR Secretary also pointed out the pervasive issue of microplastics, which have been found in raindrops, and the broader environmental impact of plastics produced from fossil fuels. She underscored the economic losses due to the disposal of recyclable plastics, which cost the Philippines approximately USD89 million annually.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act, which became law on July 30, 2022, was cited as a critical legislative step toward addressing this issue. This law shifts the responsibility for waste management from local governments to producers and manufacturers, promoting the reduction of plastic usage through the development of more sustainable packaging and the enhancement of recycling efforts.

Yulo-Loyzaga noted that over 800 large companies have committed to initiatives aimed at reducing plastic use, including developing alternative packaging solutions and enhancing recycling processes. These companies also pledged to engage in educational activities to elevate public awareness of the environmental impacts of plastic pollution.

Emphasizing the need for a collaborative effort, Yulo-Loyzaga called for a whole-of-society approach to achieve meaningful progress towards reducing plastic pollution. She stressed that effective change starts at the individual level and requires active participation from all sectors, including households, educational institutions, and experts.