The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for improvements in research and development concerning the circular economy, on the back of increasing action towards sustainability in the government and the private sector and rising consciousness to reuse and regenerate materials or products. In an international forum organized by ERDB earlier this month, experts from across the region point to a need for further study of programs, current and best practices are needed to build circular economy capabilities.

The ERDB is the DENR’s main research arm mandated to formulate, implement and coordinate integrated research, development and programs on the environment and other related cross-cutting concerns. From November 8 to 9, 2023, the ERDB conducted the International Conference on Connecting the Dots on Circular Economy (CE) for Sustainable Development which served as a platform for an estimated 160 delegates from India, South Korea, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Ethiopia, and the Philippines to discuss, develop, and share research insights on the circular economy.

“We acknowledge the need to have a venue for knowledge sharing with other countries on CE and start forging partnerships and linkages globally, specifically on research and development,” said ERDB Director Maria Lourdes Ferrer.

In the Philippines, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022 mandates that large enterprises divert 20% of the plastic waste they produced in 2023; 40% by 2024, and increase this volume by increments of 10% every year until an 80% decrease in plastic waste is achieved by 2028.

DENR Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns, Daniel Darius Nicer, for his part, highlighted the important role of producers in the successful implementation of CE. He said that as producers, they should do things to reduce the production of waste before it reaches the consumers.

“CE emphasizes the accountability of producers as major players in the economy,” stressed Nicer.

During the 2-day event, a total of 20 poster presentations were displayed via exhibit and were briefly discussed during the 2-minute poster speed talk. A total of 23 paper presentations were also presented which served as a venue for sharing of experiences, practices, and findings both in the academic and business spheres.

All presentations were anchored on the conference’s four (4) major themes: 1) Circular Economy: Towards a Sustainable Supply Chain, 2) Circular Economy Implications on the Environment, 3) Circular Economy Policies and Governance for Sustainable Development, and 4) Innovation and Technology Advancements in Circular Economy.

Moreover, DENR continuously calls on producers, organizations, and all relevant stakeholders to practice the concept of CE and invest in research and development programs to ensure a decrease in its impact on the environment.

The concept of CE aims to move from the usual linear approach of “take, make, dispose”, instead, it aims to innovate strategies such as recycling, reusing, repairing, remanufacturing, and redesigning wastes. ###