Gov’t urged to hold manufacturers liable for polluting Panigan-Tamugan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 November) — Government must hold manufacturing companies liable for polluting the Panigan-Tamugan watershed, environmental group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), Inc. said.

In a statement released on Friday, IDIS said the results of the brand audit conducted at the watershed from 2020 to 2022 showed that the same international and domestic brands had emerged as top plastic polluters based on the results of the brand audits conducted during this period. 

The Panigan-Tamugan Watershed, the city’s next source of potable water, is the “most important watershed” in the city, according to the group.

Volunteers recovered 1,159 of assorted wastes, mostly polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, sando bags, soiled diapers, sanitary pads, face masks, plastic spoon and forks, and sachets during the 6th River Clean-up Drive and Brand Audit on Saturday, 17 September 2022 at the Panigan-Tamugan watershed. Photo courtesy of IDIS

The environmental group said that holding the corporations accountable bears greater significance as the world leaders gather for the first round of talks on the Global Plastics Treaty in Punta del Este, Uruguay, this month.

“This is a historic opportunity to address the plastic pollution crisis by reducing the amount of plastic both produced and used by companies via legally-binding mechanisms and enforcement policies,” it added.

For this year, a total of 1,987 pieces of mixed wastes were recovered from the watershed, with the topplastic-polluting corporations being ranked as follows: Nestle, Oishi, Unilever, WL Foods, Colgate-Palmolive, The Coca-Cola Company, Prifood Corporation, Rebisco, and Universal Robina Corporation.

Since the brand audit began in 2020, the group said some 7,000 pieces of assorted plastic wastes had been collected. Of these plastic wastes, 57% were food packaging, 10.7% polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, 8.4% plastic bags, 8.35% sachets, and 3.94% cigarette packs.

A number of face masks, sanitary pads, and diapers were also collected from Panigan-Tamugan, it said.

It said the audit is “a participatory initiative where citizen scientists count and document the brands of plastic wastes and help track the manufacturing companies responsible for plastic pollution.”

“We also analyzed the trend from 2020 to 2022 since IDIS started participating (in brand audit). These findings reveal a remarkable consistency of results, year after year, the same companies – large manufacturers – are the top plastic polluters,” the group said.

It said corporations should reinvent “their packaging to be reusable or plastic-free, or redesign their product delivery systems to shift away from single-use plastic packaging and toward refill and reuse.”  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)