BUSINESS owners in Mandaue City emphasized during a consultative meeting attended by key stakeholders on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, that increased costs for labor and equipment pose significant challenges once the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law is implemented locally.
City Councilor Jennifer Del Mar, chair of the Committee on Environment, outlined the plan to hold further consultative meetings with stakeholders, including the Mandaue City Council, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Mandaue Chamber and Commerce Industries (MCCI), before drafting the localized EPR ordinance.
She also confirmed that a public hearing will be scheduled in due course.
Under the EPR law, large-scale companies will be required to establish a mechanism for their plastic packaging recovery. Specifically, they will be responsible for the proper and effective recovery, treatment, recycling, or disposal of the products after they have been sold and used by consumers. This includes items like plastic bags, bottles and containers, with the aim of reducing plastic waste generation and promoting recycling efforts.
The law sets incremental targets that are to be fulfilled yearly until 2030. In 2023, companies must recover 20 percent of their plastic footprint from the previous year.
MCCI President Kelly Ko, who spoke on behalf of the business sector, said the law would require particularly large-scale plastic-producing companies to hire more workers to concentrate on implementing EPR in their respective workplaces and invest in training programs.
Another issue raised was the amount companies would spend to establish treatment facilities for plastic product disposal, recycling, and treatment.
Del Mar said they target to prioritize the about 81 large-scale plastic producing companies in the city upon the ordinance's implementation, and gradually let medium and small-scale companies to follow suit.
In Mandaue, she said they expect companies to recover also 20 percent of their plastic footprint before 2023 ends once the localized EPR ordinance is implemented, and at least 80 percent by 2028.
To incentivize compliance, implementing producers, distributors, and retailers can access tax benefits. However, non-compliance may result in fines ranging from P5 million to P20 million.
Archt. Araceli Barlam of the Mandaue City Environment and Natural Resources Office (MCENRO) said they will talk about implementing similar incentives that may come in the form of discounts for companies adhering to the law.
Despite the challenges, Ko said the city's business sector understood the law's necessity and is willing to cooperate and create a win-win solution for their benefit and for public good.
He acknowledged Mandaue City's existing diversion processes as a valuable asset and expressed determination to capitalize on these strengths for compliance.
"We want to be responsible companies. So, we have to collect our ways. We are very lucky to have Mandaue City, where they have already existing diversion processes," said Ko.
"We are working on capitalizing on that strength that exists as well as for us companies to be compliant," he added.
Del Mar said they aim to implement the localized EPR law in Mandaue by year-end. (HIC)