ONLY 15% or about 600 out of 4,000 obliged companies have registered in compliance with a law holding companies responsible for the proper disposal of their products’ plastic packaging, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Registration is required under Republic Act (RA) No. 11898 or the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022, which lapsed into law on July 23, 2022. It amends RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“So far, we have counted 4,000 obliged enterprises. Unfortunately, we only have had around 600 that have actually registered. Some of those 600 have fully complied with what is required for the registration; the rest are still in the process,” Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said at a news conference on Monday.

Ms. Loyzaga signed the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) in January. The IRR makes companies with assets of over P100 million to recover their own plastic packaging waste.

“We will be jumpstarting our communications program and education program for the EPR law this month in order for us to begin meet our targets,” Ms. Loyzaga said. 

She said the goal is to sign up at least 1,000 registrants this year.

The EPR law lays down fines of P5 million to P20 million for failure to comply with the law and meet targeted recovery rates.

The Environmental Management Bureau estimates that solid waste produced daily was 61,000 metric tons per day, with plastic waste accounting for about 12%, Undersecretary Jonas R. Leones said.

“We are not winning the war against single-use plastics,” Ms. Loyzaga said. “There is a huge social dimension that needs to be addressed and there must be replacement for single-use plastics. If we cannot replace single-use plastics, we will not be able to actually address the problem,” she added.

In a statement, environmental group Oceana reiterated its call to ban single use-plastics, citing recent studies confirming the presence of microplastics in the environment.

“Microplastics are in the air we breathe and, in the soil, freshwater, and our seas. Our exposure to the dangers brought about by plastic pollution cannot be overemphasized,” Oceana Acting Vice-President and Legal and Policy Director Rose Liza Eisma-Osorio said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera