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Environmental groups urge Marcos to veto EPR bill

Several environmental groups on Thursday called on President “Bongbong” Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to veto the bill institutionalizing the extended producers’ responsibility (EPR) in waste management.

EPR makes it the responsibility of companies to properly recover, recycle, treat, or dispose of what they produce after they have been sold and consumed.

At a press conference, the groups said the bill has alarming provisions that will pose serious threats to public health, climate and environment.

EcoWaste Coalition policy and advocacy officer Coleen Salamat said the legislation only covered plastic packaging, mandatory only to big enterprises, included false solutions, and aimed only at recovery or off-setting.

“This version of EPR is not really consistent with the principles of the EPR, which is to make the polluters pay,” she said.

Break Free From Plastic project coordinator for corporate accountability Miko Aliño said a strong EPR law should include time-bound targets for reuse, refill, and recycled content; informal waste sector; transparency; and wider policy approach focusing on waste prevention and sustainable product design.

He added that there should be eco-modulation of EPR fees to concerned producers or companies which involve penalizing materials that are environmentally harmful.

“Having these five elements help improve the EPR scheme,” he said.

Greenpeace Philippines’ zero waste campaigner Marian Ledesma said that passing the bill can endanger communities, disrupt livelihood, destroy homes and infrastructure, and lead to food insecurity.

“Given the Marcos administration has been vocal about its commitment to tackle climate change, the President must veto this bill because it can affect the government’s climate goals and worsen the situation  of affected communities in the Philippines,” she said.

Health Care Without Harm’s Dr.  Glenn Roy Paraso, executive director and CEO of Mary Johnston Hospital Inc., reminded the adverse impacts of plastic on people’s health and lifestyle.

“Eliminating the use of plastics would be the better option for us," he said.

He added that national manufacturers should "improve our products and look for alternative ways to repackage them, and look at the possibility of strictly implementing a recovery mechanism."

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives executive director Froilan Grate clarified that their groups are for legislation of EPR but the country needs a genuine and straightforward version.

“When the very companies who are supposed to be the target of these national laws are the ones calling for its passage, and civil society organizations are the ones calling to oppose, I think it will give everyone reason to doubt whether the EPR bill that is currently being considered really is meant to address the problems of plastic pollution or it is meant to provide businesses way to continue with business as usual,” he said.

The environmental groups made the call as the proposed EPR Act has already been sent to Malacañang for the president's signature and will lapse into law soon if not vetoed.—LDF, GMA News