Mondelez Philippines, a major distributor of chocolates, powdered beverage, cheese and snack products in the country, signed a multi-sectoral pledge to ensure that no packaging wastes such as plastics end up in nature by 2030.
“As a global company, we recognize that we have a role to play in helping alleviate and solve this waste problem,” Toff Rada, corporate and government affairs country manager of Mondelez Philippines, says in a lunch briefing in Makati City.
Mondelez Philippines is one of the 10 companies that have so far signed the pledge collected by the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability—a non-stock, non-profit organization that aims to bring together stakeholders from the supply and waste value chain, civil society and the academe. Other parties are multinational consumer good manufacturers and distributors.
Rada says that by signing the pledge, Mondelez Philippines and other parties committed to achieve realistic targets that will be submitted to Congress “so that we will be accountable for these targets”.
“As an industry, we put our stake in the game, and we said we are committing to this. It is the first time it happened. All of these big companies—Mondelez, P&G, Unilever, Nestle—banded together to say we all agree that we have to come up with concerted efforts to solve the problem here in the Philippines,” says Rada.
Rada says that at the global level, Mondelez has made certain commitments. “We committed to reducing the amount of total packaging that we have by 65 million kilograms by 2020. At the end of 2019, we were almost close to about 60 million kilograms, so we were well on track to meeting that target. That is the short-term. In the medium-term, we also have a goal that by 2025, we will make all of our packaging materials recyclable. This means we will help foster the industry of recycling by making all the packaging that we use for chocolates, powdered beverage and cheese easy to recycle and allow for that zero to waste to nature by 2030,” he says.
“By 2025, our goal is all of these [packaging materials] or whatever solutions we come up with, will be fully recyclable and enable the full circular economy to function. Whether it is paper or alternative form of packaging, we are still exploring. There is no particular mode yet of packaging. But our commitment is that by 2025, we will have that done, and we will have shifted all of our packaging into that selected recyclable material,” says Rada.
Rada says that in the Philippines, Mondelez Philippines showed its commitment by being an active partner of PARMS. “We have signed the pledge on Jan. 26 during the anniversary of ‘Battle for Manila Bay’ of DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu,” he says.
The company also build three recycling plastic play areas in Parañaque City and Quezon City, with another to be constructed this month. It plans to expand its post-consumer collection and recycling actions in 2020.
PARMS founding president Crispian Lao says the whole industry’s goal is to develop and implement a roadmap with concrete short (2022), medium (2025) and long-term (2030) target to guide sound and implementable actions towards the goal of zero waste to nature.
Lao says the pledge was witnessed by Cimatu and Senator Cynthia Villar on Jan. 26. “It is a testament to our collective desire to work together, think together and collaborate to bring effective solutions forward,” he says.
“We have committed that by April we will come up with preliminary report on how the roadmap would look like. We will share and present this to our relevant stakeholders. We are working with our relevant stakeholders to put this together, and we will present this to the government by middle of April,” says Lao, who is also a commissioner at the National Solid Waste Management Commission.
“We are looking at getting more people involved in doing it. The final report will come out in June,” he says. “We want it to be an industry roadmap that is also recognized by government, and we need everybody to agree and support the roadmap so that we can have positive results.”
Lao cites the need for other companies and stakeholders to join the campaign. “We are open to further collaboration. We are working with all sectors. We work with everyone who has the same targets and ambitions as we do in finding a solution,” he says.
He says there is a need for cooperation from everybody, including local government units that imposed a ban on single-plastic use to force establishments to shift to paper packaging.
Lao, however, says that “some of the replacements that are already out there in the market that we thought were better actually ended up as waste also”.
“Everybody thinks that paper is a better alternative. But the main question is what do you do with that packaging at the end of its life, if it needs to be disposed of. A coated paper does not biodegrade in the environment overnight. These were coated with either wax or plastics, and they stay in the environment,” he says.
Lao says the real issue is the lack of infrastructure in the Philippines to manage its wastes. “The question is, should we start banning products out of the problem without putting the right infrastructure? We explore how the industries and business communities can participate with government and all sectors. At the end of the day, it needs the participation of all stakeholders,” he says.
Lao says the pledge is to develop a roadmap to address the problem, ensuring that there are environmentally-sound alternatives that are placed in the market and ensuring that they are economically viable, as the big chunk of the consuming public who are at the lower income level “may not be able to afford the shift that we want and prefer”.
Rada agrees, saying an instant shift to recyclable packaging materials may increase prices by up to three times.
Lao says the roadmap will be designed a living document that is continually updated, “allowing each stakeholder to do what it needs to do and identify how everybody can participate”.
Lao says a well-designed law that considers the inputs from all stakeholders can resolve the waste problem. “If the legislative body comes out with sound bills, zero waste to nature can be realized in ten years. We are confident on that,” says Lao.
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