Companies polluting the environment with plastic wastes because of their product’s packaging should bear the responsibility in order to encourage environment-friendly product packaging that minimizes negative impacts on human health and the environment.
Atty. Carlo B. Gomez, the City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (City ENRO) of Puerto Princesa City, proposed that private companies that contribute to the increasing spread of plastic wastes to our environment, should help Local Government Units (LGUs) through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.
He presented this proposal during one of the meetings with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bantay Dagat, Philippine National Police-Special Operation Unit-Maritime Group (SOU-MG), and some barangay officials from the coastal barangays within Honda Bay,
His proposal is based on the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.
Atty. Gomez said that the plastic wastes should be identified by brand so that the government agencies and offices can write these companies, whose products generate bulk of the solid wastes because of their single-use plastic packaging.
He explained that the DENR and the City Government can impose its authority and urged these companies to help in finding solution to address solid wastes in order to avoid further damage to the environment.
“We can write a letter to the company urging them that this will become part of their CSR action sa part ng company na yan to remediate the situation, maybe to come up with a good packaging and other solution. If we will not address that, they will continue producing that kind of wastes,” Atty. Gomez said.
He explained that most of these manufacturers or producers are producing biscuits, snack food or chips, soaps, shampoo and other products with plastic packaging.
The book, “Access to Environmental Justice: A Sourcebook on Environmental Rights and Legal Remedies,” published by the Supreme Court in 2011, under the Development Framework and Capacity Assessment on Environmental Justice Project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), presented that the “polluter-pays” principle states that public authorities should refrain from subsidizing the pollution control costs of the private enterprises instead these private enterprises should bear the cost of controlling the pollution that they cause.
This principle has been applied by the courts in the United States, Japan, Colombia and India in cases requiring toxic cleanup. It has in fact been adopted in the European Union to rationalize the imposition of stiff taxes on tobacco due to its contribution to smoke pollution.
EPR is a fundamental principle of “Zero Waste”, also known as Product Stewardship, said Eco-Cycle-a US-based recycler. It is a strategy that places a shared responsibility for end-of-life management of consumer products on the manufacturers of the products, while encouraging product design that minimizes negative impacts on human health and the environment at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.
EPR basically extends the polluter pays principle to the majority of the waste stream, specifically products and packaging. If you manufacture or produce a product, you should be fully responsible for the pollution it causes as well as the costs of dealing with it when the consumer is done using it. Right now, the financial burden and infrastructure needed—like collection, disposal, management of solid wastes, operation and maintenance of the sanitary landfills and other final disposal facilities, falls upon to the Local Government Units (LGU). While most cities in our country, have their functional sanitary landfills, most of the municipalities do not have. These municipalities are cash-strapped or financially constrained to perform its duties to properly manage the solid wastes in their respective localities.
Most importantly, EPR restores fairness to the system because it is not fair if all taxpayers will be burdened for paying for the actions of some—but rather the manufacturers and producers of these products with plastic packaging should cover the full costs of their actions.