Quezon City – Innovation in the context of the country’s prevailing solid waste management problem would require creativity, collaboration, and intergenerational action. This was the consensus among private sector and civil society representatives present during the 16th episode of The Climate Reality Project Philippines’ Klimatotohanan webcast series.

 

Entitled “Level Up Your Clean-up: Groups Leading the Way to Reduce Waste,” the episode was designed to deepen the conversation about clean-up drives by putting the spotlight on private sector and civil society efforts to tackle local waste problems.

“The plastic issue covers everyone,” Mae Chatto, Campaign Specialist at Oceana Philippines, said as she emphasized the need for all stakeholders to collaborate and ensure participatory solutions to waste management.

“While we demand accountability from government agencies, we also work with them, along with local government units, like-minded civil society organizations, academic institutions, private enterprises, and fisherfolk,” Chatto added as she discussed the work that they do at Oceana, the largest advocacy organization dedicated to ocean conservation, to keep plastic debris and microplastics away from the oceans.

Dhang Tecson, Operations Manager and Global Community Development Specialist at Plastic Bank, supported Chatto’s statement, saying that innovation does not have to be complicated. “It is pushing for the advocacy and collaborating with stakeholders and partners. The most important thing is to ensure that it is inclusive for everyone,” she added.

Plastic Bank is  a social enterprise that empowers disenfranchised communities to exchange any type of plastic for currency. Two years since it started its operation in the Philippines, it is now present in five (5) regions in the country.

Tecson said that, as of August 2021, Plastic Bank has opened 75 branches with 2,000 members—40 percent of which have increased their income for being part of their ecosystem. “We were able to collect 9.6 million kilos of recyclable plastics. That’s an estimate of 445 million PET bottles collected and over PhP23 million of incentives distributed to our ecosystem,” she shared.

Joy Munsayac-Cacal, Climate Reality Leader and Public Affairs and Sustainability Manager at Coca-Cola Philippines, said that innovation for her is the continuous pursuit for better options. “When you say better options, it should be a “holistic” better—better for the environment, better for humanity of now. We have to ensure that the innovation we do now does not negatively impact the future generations,” she said.

“Even though we are a big company, we acknowledge that we, alone, cannot solve the plastic waste problem. We have to partner with like-minded organizations to help create the circular economy that we are all talking about,” Munsayac-Cacal explained as she encouraged stakeholders to work with them on tackling plastic waste.

Mharee Lynn Guillena, Climate Reality Leader and the Co-Convenor of the National Clean-Up Day Coalition Philippines, meanwhile, emphasized that innovation will only be fruitful if pursued with passion, commitment, and determination to produce change.

More than being a clean-up group, Guillena said, the Coalition envisions clean and litter-free seas by capacitating communities to minimize plastic consumption and avoid and manage plastic waste.

The group was designed to harness the power of collaboration among government agencies, local government units, and civil society organizations.“We also partnered with small and medium enterprises to create partnerships and ensure that we reach the last mile—communities that have limited access to news and help from groups in the lowland,” Guillena noted.

Youth reactor and Climate Reality Leader Katya Arianna Tanglao, underscored that innovation also means intergenerational collaboration. “As the youth, we feel the effects of the plastic crisis and the overwhelming amount of waste. We are the generation that is going to feel the effects of the decisions that are going to be made today,” she said.

Banning single-use plastics
 
Chatto noted that addressing plastic pollution would require stopping it at its source, a position that Climate Reality Philippines shares.
 
“In Oceana, our [call to] ban single-use plastics is anchored on the premise of stopping plastic at the source. We are pushing for the ban of single-use plastics nationwide by compelling the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to issue a list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials (NEAPs), which include single-use plastics,” Chatto said.
 
Republic Act No. 9003 of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 created the NSWMC and mandated it to prepare, within one year from the effectivity of the law, the list of NEAPs to be banned following a phase-out plan that will be developed in consultation with stakeholders.
 
For many advocates, this provision should have been enough to manage and phase out single-use plastics. Yet, two decades since the law has passed, the NSWMC still hasn’t implemented the said provision.
 
 
Watch the 16th Klimatotohan episode here.
 
Join Oceana Philippines and Climate Reality Philippines in urging the NSWMC to ban single-use plastics through this link.