ADDRESSING today’s plastic and solid waste pollution in Cebu requires a paradigm shift and concerted efforts among stakeholders through enhancing the circular economy or the economic model that aims to reduce waste and make the most of resources, a local business leader said.
This was tackled during the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (CCCI) forum held in Cebu City on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.
CCCI president Charles Kenneth Co said the forum is about starting the culture of circular economy in Metro Cebu.
He said Cebu’s economy needs to transition from the traditional linear model to a circular economy that promotes regenerative and restorative practices, keeping resources with potential economic value in use to minimize waste and conserve available resources.
“It is about how can we improve our environmental practices because as businesses we are also one major waste generators in the community,” Co said.
The forum, “Nurturing Sustainable Solutions: A Forum on Solid Waste Management and the Circular Economy,” held at the Golden Peak Hotel and Suites, gathered local government officials, businesses, the private sector, and the academe.
The traditional linear model refers to the standard industry framework that starts with the use of raw materials and resources, processes them into practical products for public use, and after use, disposes of them as waste in landfills. This practice leads to various environmental challenges and problems, as it does not reduce waste effectively, according to Co.
Co said the circular economy is an alternative solution involving a new framework for businesses. Instead of disposing of products used or consumed by the public into landfills, they undergo a specialized recycling process involving re-use, repurposing, and recycling, ensuring that only residual waste ends up in landfills.
“A few establishments have already started it, but it is not yet that widespread. That is why we did this forum because, at the end of the day, we have different stakeholders who have joined us today for everyone to come up with what steps to start this circular economy,” he said.
The forum included government strategy, sustainable business models for circular economy, industry’s best practices, and the latest innovation of circular economy in Cebu.
Co also stressed that the circular economy is also in line with Republic Act 11898, or the Extended Producer Responsibility Act (Epra) of 2022, an environmental policy approach that encourages plastic waste reduction through the elimination of unnecessary plastic packaging, the development of more environmentally friendly and recyclable packaging, and the recovery of plastic packaging for reuse or recycling.
The business leader said one of Epra’s provisions includes a tax incentive program for those who comply with the legislative measure, although this industry has yet to realize and expand.
In Mandaue City, Araceli Barlam, chief of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, said in an interview with reporters on Monday, that the city’s circular economy initiative started in 2018, particularly with its partnership with Guun Co. Ltd., a solid waste management and recycling firm based in Consolacion, northern Cebu.
She said the City stopped operating its landfill and introduced a diversion program that involves the disposal of waste collected from households and commercial establishments to the recycling facility.
This facility recycles these discarded waste, particularly plastic waste, into an alternative source of energy called “fluff fuel,” one of the highest-grade refuse-derived fuels. Fluff fuels, produced through shredding, compressing, and packaging of plastics, papers, and fibers, provide more eco-friendly, space-saving, and affordable options as compared with other types of fossil fuels, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
In 2019, the Mandaue City Government introduced an awareness campaign program that teaches students and younger generations the significance of effective solid waste management, including the circular economy. Its goal is to integrate this program and its objectives into the basic education curriculum.
Cebu City’s program
In Cebu City, Emma Ramas, chairperson of the Cebu City Solid Waste Management Board, said the circular economy requires a paradigm shift starting from households in efficiently managing and segregating waste, collection at the barangay level, and finally disposal in recycling facilities.
She said the importance of strengthening material recovery facilities (MRF) in every barangay. However, out of 80 barangays in the city, only one has a functioning MRF.
The Cebu City Government plans to convene new village officials in December to strengthen this initiative.
In Mandaue, Barlam said that out of their 26 barangays, only six have an active MRF. An MRF is a facility where local solid waste is processed and separated manually or mechanically, with recovered materials such as paper, glass, plastics, and metals being baled, temporarily stored, and eventually sold to recycling or manufacturing firms.”