Cities for circularity: how local governments are getting ready for Extended Producer Responsibility

Cities are getting ready to participate in and contribute to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The EPR law, enacted in 2022, establishes a mechanism that places upon producers the responsibility for the entire life cycle of plastic packaging waste, especially its post-consumer or end-of-life stage.

These cities are supported by UN-Habitat Philippines’ Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative (HOCCI), a marine litter reduction project funded by the Government of Japan. Since 2020, HOCCI has been supporting six cities in developing their City Plan of Action on Marine Litter (CPOA-ML), which localizes the National Plan of Action Marine Litter. Recognizing how EPR can boost marine litter reduction by increasing and incentivizing waste diversion, HOCCI has also been providing technical assistance and knowledge exchange opportunities for EPR-readiness to its partner cities.

Being EPR-ready

Among them is Calapan City, which outlined Waste Diversion Credit-based EPR-Readiness Initiative in its CPOA-ML 2021-2025. Located on an island province adjacent to the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor and where finding market for recyclables is a challenge, the city saw this as an opportunity to increase plastic waste recovery while generating additional funds for waste management programs.

Site visit at one of Calapan City’s material recovery facility

Through City Environment and Natural Resources Department (CENRD), the city started by organizing their informal waste sector – the waste pickers, garbage collectors, sanitary landfill caretakers particularly women groups, who are at the frontlines of waste diversion, and registered them as a people’s organization, the Calapan City Association of Paleros, Inc. (CCAPI).

This year, CENRD with support from HOCCI, mobilized stakeholders and engaged them in various capacity-building activities. In February, CCAPI members were engaged in a junkshop operations workshop. In the same month, CCAPI officers, MRF operators, and selected barangay officers underwent a training on sorting and cleaning of single-use plastics to equip them in the establishment of redemption centers.

Single-use plastic cleaning and sorting workshop with Sentinel Upcycling Technologies

To map out the city’s waste diversion value chain, the city engaged operators of private junkshop and MRFs in consultations, and collaborated with 10 barangays on improving waste recovery tracking systems. The city then conducted a technical charette on May 24-25, 2023, to validate the identified gaps in the city’s current waste diversion data management system and how to address them to render it auditable by a third-party waste diversion certifier.

Calapan City is capturing its knowledge and experience and documenting them into a guide for other LGUs who want to implement their own EPR-readiness initiatives.

Policy planning, learning opportunities

Meanwhile, Ormoc City have integrated mechanisms that support EPR in their marine litter policy planning. On March 22, 2023, UN-Habitat HOCCI was invited to present the EPR policy and the opportunities it brings to local waste diverters during the quarterly City Solid Waste Management Board Meeting. The city organized for a 3-day workshop on May 9-11, 2023, that identified policy entry points to sustain the city’s marine litter reduction processes, plans, and projects – including those that support EPR, beyond the end of their CPOA-ML in 2028.

Multi-stakeholders gathered for Ormoc City’s marine litter policy planning workshop

For the City of Manila, EPR has been taken up for discussion in the Solid Waste Management Board, and have participated in several workshops on EPR through the Department of Public Services. Legazpi City, led by the Office of Environment and Natural Resources, initially levelled off with UN-Habitat HOCCI on how EPR aligns with the city’s waste diversion priorities during a discussion on March 16, 2023. They also opted to pick up from a HOCCI sister city, with a planned learning EPR exchange visit to Calapan City on June 13-14, 2023.

Contributing to national and regional discourse

HOCCI continues to engage in national discourse on EPR, providing the lens of LGUs. Most recently, the project joined representatives from private companies, development partners, policy leaders, the academe, and NGOs, and contributed to “Rethinking Plastics: EPR Paving the Way Towards Circularity,” a roundtable discussion on EPR organized by Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with Nestlé Philippines, on May 10, 2023 and through the National Convention of Pollution Control Officers of the Philippines last April 20. The project likewise contributed to regional-level discussions on EPR particularly through the Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and through GIZ-organized Regional Conference with ASEAN and ASEAN member-states.

EPR roundtable with DENR and stakeholders. Photo by DENR.
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Aligned with the planning process of local government units (LGUs), it captures the process of developing the City Plan of Action on Marine Litter (CPOA-ML) from creating the planning team, situational analysis and baselining, visioning, capacity development, action identification, until approval and adoption. It provides recommendations for enhancements of existing local policies and mainstreaming into other local plans.

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