THE Philippines has ample legislation to facilitate a transition to a low-waste, circular economy, but has not managed to shepherd any of the measures to the implementation stage, the Asian Development Bank Institute said in a report.

The report, Prospects for Transitioning from a Linear to Circular Economy in Developing Asia, noted over 400 bills and resolutions filed in Congress over the last decade related to the circular economy. The proposals span waste management and plastics regulation.

“None of these measures have yet translated into a binding law or policy as of this writing,” Gregorio Rafael P. Bueta, a lawyer and legal policy consultant, said in the February report.

He said that the growing urban population heralds a waste management crisis due in part to inadequate infrastructure.

Circular economy solutions, in which products are designed from inception to produce minimal waste, are gradually being considered in the Philippines.

But Mr. Bueta said that most proposals in the Philippines only address a few aspects of waste management, which means they fall short of creating a broad integrated strategy.

“A review of the proposals shows a piecemeal and ad hoc approach to addressing waste issues. This results in too many proposals that get stuck in the legislative mill,” he said.

“Proposals also do not cover developing the recycling industry, or promoting a zero-waste, less consumeristic society that leads to a significant reduction in waste generated.”

Proposals are also reactive to current events, which means legislators fail to pass and implement proposals after the news cycle ends.

“It is necessary to have a plan or roadmap for the journey toward a circular economy,” Mr. Bueta said. “This can also begin with an assessment of the current policy landscape to see what current policies already support the circular economy; what the gaps are; and most importantly what resources are needed to make it happen.”

The International Finance Corp. has said that the proportion of plastics that are recycled in the Philippines is about 30%. This means unrecycled materials that go to waste are valued at about $1 billion a year.

In the Philippines, deterrents to recycling include high power costs that make running recycling facilities expensive, the IFC said.  Meanwhile, landfill disposal fees are cheaper.

Landfill tipping fees, or waste disposal charges, are cheaper here compared to other Asian countries, which means there is little incentive for local government units or private companies to promote recycling. — Jenina P. Ibañez