As more countries implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the Philippines marks a new environmental milestone with the passage of the Extended Producer Responsibility Act (EPRA) this year.
Countries in Asia including Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and India revealed the programs established, the progress made, and the challenges and lessons learned in implementing EPR in a recent forum co-organized by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
Many countries have started introducing this “polluter pays principle” as their policy instrument in response to the increasing amount of post-consumer waste, including plastics, noted ERIA. In Asia, some countries have activated their own EPR systems, some with a longer experience that dates back to 1995.
In the Philippines, Republic Act No. 11898, or the “Extended Producer Responsibility Act of 2022,” lapsed into law on July 23, 2022.
The EPRA is an Act institutionalizing EPR on plastic packaging waste, amending Republic Act No. 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
The Act was crafted in response to the clamor to regulate single-use plastics and their production, importation and disposal by industries. The law defines EPR as “the environmental policy approach and practice that requires producers to be environmentally responsible throughout the life cycle of a product, especially its post-consumer or end-of-life stage.”
Under the new regulation, large enterprises are required to recover a certain portion of their plastic packaging waste or else pay a fine. They are mandated to register and submit their EPR program for approval by the National Solid Waste Management Commission or NSWMC.
They must adopt and implement a program that includes the effective recovery, treatment, reuse, recycling, and disposal methods for plastic products and wastes.
By December 31, 2023, companies must meet the first target recovery rate of 10%, increasing by 10% each of the following years. By December 31, 2028, the target rate of plastic waste recovery and recycling must be 80%.
Plastic packaging refers to products utilized to carry, protect or pack goods for transportation, distribution and sale. The following types of plastic packaging are covered:
Sachets, labels, laminates and other flexible packaging products whether single or multilayered
Rigid plastic packaging products, whether layered with any other materials, including containers for beverages food, household goods, personal care and cosmetic products, including their coverings, caps or lids and other necessities or promotional items, such as cutlery, plates, drinking straws, or sticks, tarps, signage, or labels
Plastic bags, including single-use plastic bags, for carrying or transporting goods
The law further states that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are not covered, “provided, further, that in case the total value of assets of all enterprises carrying the same brand, label or trademark exceeds that of medium enterprises… these enterprises shall be deemed obliged enterprises.”
Still, EPRA encourages MSMEs to practice EPR voluntarily, or be a part of the network of obliged enterprises or producer responsibility organizations (PROs) practicing EPR.
Obliged enterprises may voluntarily organize themselves to form or authorize a PRO to establish a viable platform to implement their EPR program.
Apart from penalties, the law also hopes to encourage EPR schemes through a reward system.
Large enterprises can apply for tax incentives for their EPR activities. The EPR expenses of large enterprises and other private enterprises that volunteer to do EPR schemes will be considered “necessary expenses deductible from gross income,” subject to substantiation requirements under the tax code.