Less than 1,000 companies have so far complied with the requirements of the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) law mandating enterprises to recover a percentage of their wastes from 2023 to 2028.
The measure lapsed into law during the first month in office of President Marcos Jr. in July 2022 after his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, did not sign it.
As of Dec. 5, only 798 of the 4,000 enterprises covered by the law have registered their EPR program – which states the mode of recovery and volume of waste to be recovered, among others – with the government, according to the Environment and Management Bureau.
The EPR law mandates companies to recover 20% of their plastic wastes by year-end of 2023, a target that increases by 20% a year until it reaches 80% by the end of 2028.
A company is required to register its EPR program with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for proper audit. It may undertake its own EPR program or tap another party called the producer responsibility organization (PRO), to do so.
Enterprises face minimum fines of P5 million on first offense and P10 million on second offense, and suspension of business permit on third offense.
In August, a representative from the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), a registered PRO, said the DENR has yet to release the guidelines for the fiscal incentives that obliged enterprises may avail of upon registration.
By October, DENR said it was still finalizing the details of the incentives with the Department of Finance. Companies have been in a “wait-and-see” mode, largely due to gaps in the implementation of the law.
The agency has partnered with multinational non-profit organizations to raise awareness about the law. It has also mounted roadshows across the country to increase EPR registrations.
It remains to be seen if the DENR would enforce provisions of the law that impose fines on non-compliant companies.
The law is also seen as a critical tool for the country’s compliance with the yet-to-be-completed Global Plastic Pollution Treaty.
The treaty is seen to include both legally binding and voluntary agreements on how to handle plastic production and plastic wastes globally. In November, stakeholders from across the globe discussed the “zero draft”, a draft policy penned by the UN Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (“INC”) which would serve as a guide for the final version of the treaty. END