COMPANIES producing and earning billions of dollars from their harmful products should take on the responsibility for the global plastic pollution.
Thus said Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia-Pacific during the opening of the International Zero Waste Cities Conference (IZWCC) held in Bandung, Indonesia from March 5-7.
The Alliansi Zero Waste Indonesia and GAIA Asia-Pacific organized the conference hosted by Cimahi, Soreang and Bandung cities in Indonesia to serve as venue for learning, sharing and collaborating for cities may be able to pursue and accelerate the global transition to Zero Waste.
City and community leaders from Zero Waste cities and municipalities in Indonesia, India, Philippines, Malaysia, US and Europe showcased how their communities divert waste from landfills through at-source waste segregation, composting and anaerobic digestion.
“It’s unfair for companies, who earn billions of dollars annually, to pass the burden and responsibility of managing the waste that their products create when cities and communities with limited resources are burdened by it,” said Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia-Pacific regional coordinator.
“Cities are already struggling to fund waste collection systems and they are still left to address waste that communities can neither compost nor recycle,” he added.
He shared in his presentation the results of waste and brand audits conducted in Philippine cities and communities in 2017 showing that multinationals—Nestle, Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, Coca Cola—are among the top 10 plastic polluters in the country.
The finding is consistent with the waste and brand audit conducted in 2017 by Philippines-based member organizations of the #breakfreefromplastic movement along the stretch of Freedom Island in Paranaque City (Metro Manila) which showed the same companies in the top 10.
Grate noted that the net income in 2016 of the top six multinational corporations polluting the Philippines is $27 billion.
“As they rake in money for these problematic products, they are also making cities spend scarce resources to collect and manage this waste,” he said.
He cited the example of 17 Metro Manila cities spending $87 million in 2012, an amount he said would have been better used to provide basic social services to the poor.
Grate also challenged the representative of the Indonesian brand, Danone, who was on stage, to do more to get their company off the list of top 10 local brands that are polluting Indonesia.
Meanwhile, brand audits were conducted in Bandung and Cimahi cities and Bandung Regency in Indonesia that are all currently implementing Zero Waste programs.
Sherma Benosa, GAIA Asia-Pacific communications officer, said that from the audit, 8,101 plastic waste items were collected which are considered as residual or other waste; the samples were taken from an eight-day waste assessment and characterization study (WACS).
In the Philippines, brand audits were conducted in the cities of Malabon, Quezon City, and Tacloban. The audits, done in 2017, were part of the activities WACS carried preparatory to the implementation of Zero Waste Programs in the said cities.