By Ellicia Frentzen Del Mundo
The plastic pollution crisis continues to worsen at an alarming rate especially today in the wake of the pandemic. Every day, tons of ocean-bound plastic waste endangers marine life and the ecosystem.
Experts predict that by 2050, “there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean,” said Watsons Philippines PR and sustainability director Viki Encarnacion during the webinar “Do Good for the Ocean” organized by A.S Watson Group.
She added that every year, “over 8 million tons of plastic waste escape in the ocean from our coastal nations” leading to the death of “more than 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine animals”.
Recognizing the adverse effects of plastic, Watsons entered a partnership with nonprofit organization Plastic Bank for the Impact Program Collaboration to stop ocean-bound plastics while also providing income to communities.
“With our long-lasting commitment towards sustainability, we continue to look for new ways to reduce plastic waste,” said Encarnacion.
“Together with our partner suppliers, we aim to turn waste into valuable resources. We would like to encourage consumers to also practice recycling and bring forth more sustainable product options for all our shoppers.”
Stopping ocean-bound plastic waste
Watsons and Plastic Bank aim to prevent 50,000 kilos of plastic bottles from entering the world’s oceans – equivalent to 2.5 million bottles in the next 12 months through the Impact Program.
This undertaking does not only seek to campaign for a recycling economy but also to increase livelihood opportunities and support Filipino families.
In exchange for plastic waste, collectors will receive money and other incentives to help them access basic goods and services. The plastic waste is brought to the designated local collection point of Plastic Bank.
Plastic Bank Asia head of sales Giovanni Bottazzi emphasizes that plastic is not the problem, but the improper waste disposal is.
“The problem with plastic is the way it is consumed or disposed of,” he said. “Oftentimes, it is disposed of as improper waste. But if it is disposed of correctly, it can be regenerated and find new life in new products.”
Watsons Philippines is dedicated to inspiring behavioral and lifestyle changes. Earlier this month, the health and beauty retailer launched the “Do Good” sustainability campaign.
It offers four sustainable choices for consumers to reduce their environmental footprints. The Refill and Reduce instills the habit of refilling used containers; Clean Beauty and Better Ingredients highlight products with no “unwanted” ingredients, particularly microplastics; and Better Packaging promotes products in recyclable and sustainable packaging.
Collective action towards a sustainable world
Working towards a sustainable environment is not just the social responsibility of consumers and businesses, every sector of society has to work together. Watsons Philippines invited government agencies and private companies to talk about their sustainability strategies.
NEDA Regional Development Group Undersecretary Mercedita Sambilla discussed the Philippine Development Plan which aspires for “Matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay para sa lahat”, a long-term vision dubbed as “AmBisyon Natin 2040” rooted in the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sambilla said one of the key outcomes they wanted to achieve was ensuring ecological integrity and clean and healthy environment.
With their advocacy grounded on the UN SDG 12: “Responsible consumption and production”, Department of Trade and Industry director of consumer protection and advocacy bureau Marcus Valdez II reminds consumers to be conscious of the things they consume to minimize waste.
He said sustainable consumption was more than “consumption of green products and availing of green service”, but it is about changing consumption patterns to “meet the needs of current and future generations”.
Procter and Gamble, for its part, has incorporated sustainability in its business strategies and is committed to their company’s “Ambition 2030” to make responsible consumption from start to finish.
According to P&G communications head Anna Legarda, the company’s factories recycle all plastic waste.