Here are some PPCP projects aimed at protecting our environment:
PPCP and Republic Act 9003 (The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000)
More than two years have passed after her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed RA 9003 into law and questions continue to hound the business sector as to whether this law is beneficial to business or an added burden to an already heavy economic environment. The National Solid Waste Commission, the national body that is tasked to operationalize the law, has observed that slowly, business sector has started to prepare itself to changes in policies regarding solid waste disposal. Although not yet fully settled down with its new role in solid waste management, the Commission believes that initial progress is promising and hopes that the momentum can be sustained.
As for PPCP, most of the provisions of the RA 9003 are not new to the Industry Association. In fact, many of the provisions of the law are similar to the advocacy campaign, which we have launched 10 years ago. They constitute a large segment of PPCP’s action programs such as teaching the members of the community to segregate garbage at source so that either recycling or composting by different stakeholders can best handle the segregated waste. R.A. 9003 has become an added benefit to the IEC campaign of PPCP as it coincides and enhances the council’s basic programs and to a certain extent, help in increasing the rate of recycling for PPCP.
Some has cited polystyrene packaging waste as a material that is to blame for clogged waterways. This happens because of littering. It is unfortunate that many misconceptions still persist citing that litter is a problem caused by specific materials themselves being littered rather than pointing to the true root of the problem which is irresponsible consumer behavior or illegal waste disposal. Attributing the litter issue to a particular type of packaging will merely take its place as litter, unless the behavioral problem is squarely addressed. Moreover, these waste materials, if properly disposed through a Materials Recovery Facility, as provided for under RA 9003, will mean more materials for recycling and less materials to be illegaly disposed. This will further divert what otherwise would go to residual waste for the landfill. All it takes is proper education, discipline and effective implementation of a rational waste-resource recovery program.
Establishment of a Recycling Plant
While all efforts on sharing information seemed to be enough, there remained something else that needed to be done. Advocationg for the use of Foam PS Packaging material that is 100% recyclable is one thing, but demonstrating that recycling this material can be doen is another thing. This challenge inspired core PPCP members to undertake formidable program of putting up its own recycling plant. A decision was arrived at in the second quarter of 1995, and the construction of the first Foam PS Polystyrene packaging recycling plant in the Philippines was soon started. Located in a 1.5-hectare lot in Barangay Patag of Sta. Maria, Bulacan, the plant was designed to handle post-consumer foam PS waste products which can be delivered to the plant.
Two years after the start of operations of the Bulacan Foamed PS recycling plant, the recycling of Expanded Polystyrene Foam, known to many as Styrofoam or EPS, was started. EPS is used as cushioning materials for appliances and electrical/electronic parts. Most can found in industrial areas which purchase sensitive components packaged with this cushioning molds. A different approach was adopted to tackle this relatively cleaner waste product.
Two of our member, Mega Packaging Corp., and Kanepackage Phils., Inc. invested in truck-mounted EPS melting machines and gained the flexibility of being able to go to industrial sites wher EPS molded parts have accumulated. Using state-of-the-art recycling modules, the resulting output was clean and white, unlike most recycled lumps which are dark. This effort has revolutionized the recycling process by recycling wastes at source. This operation is sustained under the polluter’s pay system and availed of principally by locators at the EPZA and other industrial estates who are well aware of this technology and are practising an effective and comprehensive environmental management system.
Polystyrene recycling is now an international affair. In Asia, PPCP is part of the umbrella organization of the Asian Manufacturers of EPS. At present, 8 countries compromise the membership of AMEPS, namely, Korea, Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Other countries that will soon join this association are China, Indonesia, India and Australia. AMEPS in turn joins hands with a similar organization in the European Union, called the European Manufacturers of EPS (EUMEPS) and another similar organization in the North America called the Association of Foam Packagers and Recyclers (AFPR).Polystyrene International Recycling Agreement
Please visit the homepage of EPS Recycling International at: http://www.epsrecycling.org/
EPS Recycling Agreement
Various EPS organizations from more than 25 countries around the world have subscribed to the International Agreement on Recycling. An agreement which commits signatories to:
1. Enhance existing programmes and initiate new ones which enable EPS protective foam packaging to continue to meet individual, domestic environmental standards regardless of its country of origin.
2. Continue to promote the use of recycled polystyrene in a wide variety of end use applications.
3. Continue to work toward uniform and consistent international environmental standards regarding EPS protective foam packaging, especially in the area of solid waste.
4. Establish a network to exchange information about EPS environmental and solid waste management programmes between packaging professionals, product manufacturers, government officials, association members and consumers.
The following countries’ EPS Foam Packaging Associations have signed the International EPS Recycling Agreement:
Waste to Energy Recovery
Waste to Energy recovery is considered as one of the best options for waste management, nevertheless, it falls behind our advocacy of of recycling. Since polystyrene and other plastic materials are derivatives of oil and natural gases, it produces a significant amount of heat energy when burned thus helping other waste material to burn more completely. Waste to Energy combustion produces heat to generate steam and electricity. This has become a common sight in developing countries particularly those that have no space for landfilling. This option however is still in the talking stage as the government is not yet ready to approve it as a mandated solution to the solid waste problem.
Considered as the final option for solid waste management, materials that cannot be recycled or incinerated go to dumps. Often times, people have the wrong notion that materials disposed off in landfills will biodegrade quickly and that it return to nature. Fact is, nothing not even paper nor food nor polystyrene degrades quickly, because landfills are designed to retard the degration process so that the by-products of biodegration can be contained in order not to harm the air, ground and water. Layers of soil are used to cover trash to prevent penetration of air, water and sunlight — all the elements needed for degration.
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Based on studies, plastic waste in landfills compromises a small percentage of the total municipal trash disposed off everyday by business and communities. Part of the reason is associated with the socio-economic developments of the country and the rise of junkshop operators and scavengers. Scavengers make their living from the dump, selling it to recyclers. Before a garbage truck filled with trash is dumped in the city’s limited landfill space, hundred of scavengers gather and try to find what is salvageable. Polystyrene is therefore a small portion of the municipal trash and accounts for slightly more than 1% of its volume and less than 1% of its weight.
Polystyrene disposable packaging is normally found in fast food restaurants which have mushroomed all over the country. These restaurants use packaging that is almost 90% polystyrene, ranging from foamed containers for hamburgers to spaghettis. Cold drinking cups are filled from EPS packaging. Plastic cutleries are also made from GPS & HIPS. Only the plastic straw, so to speak, is a PP material while a take home bag is a PE material form part of the household waste.
PPCP also adopts the integrated solid waste advocacy of source reduction, recycling, waste to energy recovery system and landfilling. Through source reduction, manufacturers continue to find ways of minimizing the content of raw materials used for containers. Reduction thus appears as part of the manufacturing system. At the same, factory scraps are also recycled to make sure none of the materials are wasted to produce finished products.