Unrecycled plastics cost PH $890M

The Philippine economy is losing $790 to $890 million a year in terms of potential material value of recycled plastics, according to a new World Bank paper.

Released on Tuesday, the Washington-based multilateral lender’s paper titled “Market Study for the Philippines: Plastics Circularity Opportunities And Barriers” said that of the 1.1 million tons per year of the four key plastic resins in the Philippines consumed in the Philippines, only 28 percent are being recycled.

These four plastic resins include polyethylene terephthalate, high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene/linear low-density polyethylene, and polypropylene.

The report added the total material value that could be unlocked from plastic recycling in the Philippines is $1.1 billion annually.

This is assuming all four key plastic resins had 100-percent collected for recycling (CFR) rates and obtained the maximum value in the market, it noted.

However, the study said only 22 percent of the total material value of plastics or $246 million a year is currently unlocked.

“This results in $790 to $890 million a year of potential material value that is lost to the Philippine economy,” it pointed out.

Thus, the study said fully addressing this market opportunity will require public and private sector investments to improve waste collection/sorting, an enabling environment to improve recycling economics, and other systemic interventions.

It added the material value loss is the result of various structural challenges that impact the CFR rates and value yields for all four key resins.

“The Philippine plastic recycling industry faces similar challenges as other Southeast Asian countries, but it also experiences unique obstacles to its profitability and growth,” the paper also underscored.

Consequently, it identified six recommended interventions to enable the Philippines to improve recycling rates from the current 28 percent. These interventions involve increasing of waste collection and sorting efficiency of post-consumer plastics; setting recycled content that targets across all major end-use applications; mandating national “design for recycling” standards for all major plastics products, especially packaging; encouraging increase in recycling capacities; creating industry-specific requirements to increase plastic waste collection and recycling rates; and restricting disposal of waste plastics and incentivize phase-out of plastics.

“These interventions could also enable the country to increase the value yield of plastics recycling from 82 percent to 95 percent, and unlock significant additional material value from recycling plastics,” the report also stressed.

It added the recommended interventions for the government and the private sector each have the potential to unlock material value of $180 to $640 million annually.

The study also said these interventions could lay the foundation for plastics circularity, further strengthen demand for recycled plastics, and build a resilient recycling industry in the Philippines.

“However, some systemic issues, such as the comparatively high costs of operating recycling businesses in the Philippines, are not addressed by these interventions, ”it, nevertheless, underscored.