DENR, PSE Team Up for Game-Changing Environmental Law

Collaborative initiatives led by the DENR address plastic and waste issues through the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Law and educational campaigns.

The Philippines earned an alarming distinction in a 2019 study: it was the largest contributor of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. The country accounted for 36.38% of global oceanic plastic waste, overshadowing India, the second-largest polluter, which contributed around 12.92% during the same period. Recognizing this crisis, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in collaboration with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and PCX, a prominent platform for plastic responsibility, organized an information session targeting listed companies. The goal was clear: to enhance awareness, educate stakeholders, and bolster compliance with environmental law, namely the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law.

Attended by top executives from various publicly listed companies, this event marked a crucial step in an ongoing series of educational programs orchestrated by the DENR.

“At the heart of today’s message lies the concept of what’s termed a circular economy,” says Atty. Roel Refran, Chief Operating Officer at PSE. “We are well aware of the challenges posed by global warming, climate risks, and physical pollution. It’s incumbent upon us to mitigate these risks and not pass on merely problems but viable solutions to the next generation.”

Clarification on EPR Law

Despite nearly a year passing since the unveiling of regulations for implementing the Philippines’ new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Law, widespread confusion still looms over its coverage. Questions persist: Does it exclusively target plastic manufacturers? Are certain companies exempt? What about tax incentives? These queries demand immediate and clear-cut answers.

This pervasive confusion spurred the DENR to spearhead an informational campaign. These sessions intend to address the aforementioned queries and outline strategies under the EPR program. The strategies span from diminishing the plastic footprint to recovery and diversion, including guidelines for retailers interested in establishing product refilling systems for various items, from groceries to personal care products.

Moreover, the DENR clarified that the law encompasses all “obliged enterprises,” comprising entities like brand owners, product manufacturers, or importers producing plastic packaging waste, with assets exceeding PHP 100 million, excluding land.

“Currently, approximately 745 obliged enterprises have submitted their EPR programs for evaluation to our office, either individually, collectively, or through their authorized Producer Responsibility Organization,” says Esperanza Sajul, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau Assistant Director.

The EPR Law, an environmental law enacted during the latter part of the Duterte Administration, mandates large corporations to recover or divert a minimum of 20 percent of their plastic packaging footprint by the end of 2023, increasing to 40 percent by 2024. The target amplifies by 10 percent annually, aiming to reach a minimum of 80 percent recovery or diversion by 2028.

Driving Transformation Through Environmental Law

The Philippines’ unsettling position as the primary contributor to global oceanic plastic waste in 2019 necessitated urgent action. Through collaborative efforts spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in partnership with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and PCX, an educational session targeted listed companies to combat this pressing issue. The overarching goal was to elevate awareness, educate stakeholders, and encourage adherence to environmental law.

Simultaneously, the DENR’s informative sessions aim to dispel uncertainties surrounding the law’s scope and implications for diverse companies. These endeavors seek to offer lucidity on the law’s breadth and provide strategic direction for reducing, recovering, and diverting plastic waste.

These proactive initiatives, though nascent, epitomize a concerted effort to tackle the Philippines’ plastic pollution crisis through legislative measures, collaborative endeavors, and responsible corporate involvement.

“Let’s collaborate to discover solutions because, whether we like it or not, failure is not an option for us,” says Atty. Refran.