Plastics have a bad reputation for clogging up our oceans. At this point, who hasn’t seen photos of poor animals suffering from misplaced plastic waste? But plastics aren’t all bad, and advocacy group Save Philippine Seas (SPS) is working to shift the blame and attention from plastic toward the real issue: waste management.
Together with food company Mondelez Philippines, they’re here to set the record straight on the issues around waste management while also advocating for accountability from the relevant stakeholders.
Bridging the information gap
As an organization, SPS aims to narrow the gap between scientists and the general public, the old and young, and the passionate and the indifferent by mobilizing ‘seatizen’-led initiatives that empower Filipinos toward collective action and behavior change.
Explaining environmental issues may sometimes require complex explanations that the average person might have a difficulty understanding which makes it harder for these issues to gain traction in the public consciousness.
“Our work is focused on breaking down the issues surrounding environmental protection, helping everyone understand them, and more importantly be part of the movement and take action,” shared Anna Oposa, executive director and “chief mermaid” of SPS. From informational campaigns, petitions, and idea hackathons, SPS works to make it easier to understand the real culprits behind environmental degradation.
“In the case of marine plastic pollution, we see the reasons behind it are improper waste management and unsustainable consumption patterns,” explained Oposa. “Simply put, plastics are not being disposed of and collected properly, leading them to end up in nature. When they are collected, they are not recycled enough, which leads them to stay in landfills and end up in bodies of water too. Lastly, we need to treat plastic as a resource—plastic can and should be re-used to reduce the production of virgin plastic, reduce the waste in our landfills, and eliminate the plastics in our environment.”
Partnering up to save the seas
Mondelez Philippines is a big supporter of SPS and their work. Already they have their own initiative—Sustainable Snacking—that aims to make their snack products less environmentally impactful.
Globally, Mondelez has pledged that 100 percent of their packaging will be recyclable by 2025 which includes their plastic packaging. They’re also aiming to reduce their virgin plastic use in rigid plastic packaging by at least 25 percent, or a 5 percent reduction in overall virgin plastic use. Mondelez is also looking to use 5 percent recycled content by weight across their plastic packaging globally.
“Plastic is a highly efficient material which helps us provide the right levels of safety, quality, product protection, and preservation for food. We see the value of plastic as a resource that’s why we want to contribute to a circular economy where packaging material is recycled or reused,” exclaimed Atty. Joseph Fabul, Corporate and Government Affairs country manager of Mondelez Philippines.
Mondelez Philippines works with local organizations like SPS to fund the collection and recycling of plastic, and educating more people on proper waste management guidelines. “Manufacturers need to redesign their packaging, reduce their plastic use, and contribute to recycling the plastic they produce,” added Oposa.
“Governments need to create more collection and recycling infrastructure to ensure plastic does not end up in waste streams. Lastly, consumers like us need to find alternatives to plastic where they exist, segregate our plastic waste at home to make them easier to collect and recycle, and live a waste-free life as much as possible.”
To read the Plastic and Ocean series by Save Philippine Seas, click here.