Even as fierce debate on plastic pollution and single-use packaging continues in the Philippines, it is vital to address the lack of disposal facilities and stop the leakage of plastic waste into the oceans, industry experts said.

The use of plastic packaging by food and consumer goods companies has been blamed for the marine pollution crisis, but no other material is as effective in ensuring the safe transportation of food, Crispian Lao, head of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability (PARMS), pointed out.

“If there is packaging that meets the demand of food safety and accountability in an archipelagic country like the Philippines, where food has to be transported from one island to another, then we are very much open to that,” said Lao, whose multi-sectoral organisation aims to develop zero-waste programmes for schools and communities.

“But we are still in the process of looking for those solutions, so right now, we need to address problems as they come. What is important for now is to ensure that none of the waste enters our ecosystem.”

Although the Philippines has a high garbage collection rate among Southeast Asian countries, rubbish is not properly disposed of, according to a 2018 study of waste management practices in the region.

Lao said 70 per cent of the Filipino population has no access to disposal facilities and sanitary landfills, causing waste to leak into the oceans.

The low compliance of cities to establish sanitary landfills has been blamed on the high cost of closing dumpsites, but Lao argued that regulations for building landfills are also “too strict”.

Among other requirements, landfills must be built on clay, and at a distance from earthquake faults. But the country has very little clay and sits on several tectonic plates, he said.

Czarina Constantino, who spearheads the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) global campaign in the Philippines to stop the flow of plastics into nature by 2030, agreed that the lack of waste disposal facilities is one of the main causes of plastic pollution in the country. Poorly resourced municipal governments are the reason for this.

Read the full article about plastic pollution in the Philippines by Hannah Alcoseba Fernandez at Eco-Business.