Stop importation of plastics

January 16, 2019

China stopped importing plastics from other countries to protect their environment and health. Vietnam followed suit. Malaysia is phasing out.

Thus, exporters needing to dump their plastic wastes are now  looking for other countries with no strict rules against accepting such.

EcoWaste Coalition is  urging the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to likewise ban plastic waste importation  following the dumping here of toxic waste from Canada in 2013 and South Korea last year.

The Coalition is requesting DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to “impose tough measures that will prevent discarded plastics that could no longer enter China from being diverted into the Philippines due to loopholes in existing regulations”  in anticipation of possibly increased dumping of more wastes from South Korea to the Philippines.

Data from the Korea Customs Service quoted by the Coalition from a reference published in November last year shows that “2017 waste exports from South Korea to Philippines rose from 4,398 tons to 11,588 tons after China closed the door for plastic waste and other waste imports from overseas.

Waste exports from South Korea to Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan also increased.   On the other hand, South Korea’s waste exports to China dropped from 119,575 tons in 2017 to 9,379 tons in 2018.”

Representative  Juliette Uy (Second District, Misamis Oriental) also conveyed her support for “stringent policies” to deter plastic waste dumping into the country, according to the Coalition, citing her statement at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) during the ceremonial send-off rites for 51 containers of the South Korean garbage. “We need to adopt new stringent policies to prevent the importation of plastic and other types of waste since we do not want our province and our whole country for that matter to become a global garbage dump,” the Coalition quoted Uy.

MICT Port Collector John Simon, according to the Coalition, also said  that “it’s our shared responsibility to proactively prevent plastic wastes, which often come unsorted and contaminated with hazardous materials, from entering our ports.  Stringent policy measures should be adopted, including banning the importation of waste plastics, which should be treated at source and not sent to developing counties like ours.”

The dumping of garbage in our country has been going on even much earlier than 2013. Many countries  may look at us as an attractive “alternative” for garbage dumping because of our own gross mismanagement of our wastes which turn into garbage. Until now, after Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 was passed in January 2001, about 1,000 dumpsites still remain, many of which are now called “sanitary landfills” but which are garbage dumpites just the same. The law says only residual wastes should be consigned to the landfills, which should last for only five years to give just enough time for the communities to refine best practices for ecological solid waste management.

However, all sorts of mixed waste---biodegradable and non-biodegradable--- are dumped into landfills while  only token efforts have been evident to follow the law. When the DENR closed the Payatas dumpsite in 2017, after residents filed a Writ of Kalikasan at the Supreme Court, the local government of Quezon City looked for other areas to dump the garbage, such as Montalban, instead of mandating its barangays to do as the law says: compost and recycle most of the waste within the barangay while the city would get only the special waste for special recycling.  Hence, there would be no need at all for landfills.

By the way, in my last column on Monday, I inadvertently wrote “North” Korea instead of South Korea, with reference to the same issue of hazardous plastic waste dumped in our country. My sincere apologies to the North Korean government               (