World Bank report: Lack of plastic recycling costs PH $890M a year in potential income
MANILA, Philippines—Filipinos throw away 2.7 million tons of plastics every year which the World Bank said recycling could turn into millions of dollars in cash instead of becoming a burden on the environment.
The Philippines currently “grapples with unsustainable plastic production/consumption and insufficient waste management infrastructure,” said the World Bank report, “Market Study for the Philippines: Plastics Circularity Opportunities and Barriers.”
On its website, the World Bank noted that plastics production contributed $2.3 billion to the Philippine economy in 2018, as many poor and middle-income households use cheap consumer goods packed in plastic containers.
“A high dependence on single-use plastics like multilayer sachets and pouches has led the Philippines to become a ‘sachet economy’ that continues to worsen the alarming levels of marine plastic pollution in the region.” the World Bank said.
It said at least 163 million sachets are consumed in the country per day.
Unfortunately, one-fifth of these plastics were being improperly disposed of and just thrown into the ocean, the World Bank said. Such marine debris had been putting livelihoods in the domestic fishing, shipping and tourism sectors at risk, WB said.
WB said only 28 percent of key plastic resins, like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), low density polyethylene (LDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) were recycled in the Philippines in 2019, even as recycling could not only save but also generate extra cash.
According to WB, “78 percent of the material value of the key plastic resins—upwards of $890 million per year—is lost in the Philippines when recyclable plastic products are discarded rather than recycled into valuable materials.”
It did not help that the Philippines “had a large recycling capacity gap of 85 percent in 2019 (compared to Malaysia and Thailand across all four resins) and is a net exporter of plastic scrap,” WB added.
Plastics recycling in the Philippines was also hampered by expensive electricity and high logistics costs, an aggressive informal recycling sector edging out formal recyclers, many hard-to-recycle and low-value wastes, low landfill tipping fees, plus low quality of recycled products, WB said.
“Many of these challenges are amplified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Changes in consumption patterns and low waste collection rates have led to supply reductions in the recycling industry, while low oil prices have made it cheaper to use virgin rather than recycled plastic,” WB added.
To address these barriers to plastics recycling in the Philippines, WB recommended the following:
- Raise sorting efficiency
- Set recycled content goals for all major end-use applications
- Require “design for recycling” standards for plastics
- Enjoin more chemical and mechanical recycling capacities
- Create industry-specific requirements to collect post-use plastics
- Restrict plastics disposal.
These steps would eventually strengthen the demand for and maximize the value of recycled plastics in the Philippines, according to WB.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.