MANILA -- Advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition wants the practice of importing plastic waste stopped for good, saying industries can substantially source their needed scrap plastic locally.
"We think that can be done," EcoWaste national coordinator, Aileen Lucero, said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday.
Lucero said the government must already assess the country's plastics supply and coordinate with the industry on its demand for scrap plastic, toward a workable importation phase-out plan.
She said that aside from reducing the volume of waste for disposal by using plastics that merely litter and pollute surroundings nationwide, EcoWaste believes implementing the plan will help promote domestic waste recycling and guard against further inbound shipment of misdeclared plastic waste.
"With a lot of plastics merely lying around, phasing out plastic waste importation must start as soon as possible," Lucero said.
EcoWaste came up with the recommendation, as it denounced the recent shipping of a cargo containing plastic trash from South Korea.
"That cargo has no import clearance, so it's smuggled," she said.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the 5,100-ton cargo declared as plastic synthetic flakes did not have the agency's importation clearance.
Neither the South Korean company nor the cargo's consignee, Verde Soko II Industrial Corp., was registered as importer of recyclable materials, the DENR said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Under DENR policy, registered importers are required to secure the necessary import clearances from DENR at least 30 days before the actual importation," the agency stated in the press release.
The DENR assured to file charges against parties responsible for the cargo's importation into the country if results of the Environmental Management Bureau's waste analysis and characterization study would show that the contents of the shipment are hazardous.
The agency also assured recommending the cargo's return to its country of origin.
The DENR said the cargo arrived in July this year at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Misamis Oriental province on board the MV Affluent Ocean vessel.
"Initial findings showed the shipment contained used dextrose tubes, used diapers, batteries, bulbs, and electronic equipment," it noted.
Among the acts prohibited under Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 are those that "cause, aid, or facilitate, directly or indirectly, in the storage, importation, or bringing into the Philippine territory any amount of hazardous and nuclear wastes in any part of the Philippines."
"Hazardous wastes are hereby defined as substances that are without any safe commercial, industrial, agricultural, or economic usage and are shipped, transported or brought from the country of origin for dumping or disposal into or in transit through any part of the territory of the Philippines," RA 6969 reads.
RA 6969 notes hazardous waste also includes "by-products, side-products, process residues, spent reaction media, contaminated plant or equipment, or other substances from manufacturing operations, and as consumer discards of manufactured products."
Last week, EcoWaste cited Malaysia's plan to phase out in three years the importation of all types of plastic waste into its territory.
"Our call is for the Philippines to do the same," Lucero reiterated, noting RA 6969 still allows importation of recyclable materials, such as plastic waste.
She added that Malaysia announced its phase-out plan last month, following the ban China imposed on waste imports. (PNA)