Shifting to a circular economy can help manage waste and recognize opportunities and resources, including material waste,  to reap maximum benefits for the country.

This was emphasized by experts in a recent webinar organized by the Philippine APEC Study Center Network (PASCN) and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in partnership with the Asian Institute of Management Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness and with the support of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Philippines.

The two-panel symposium “Resilient and Sustainable Future for All: Promoting Circular Economy through Responsible Consumption and Production” featured the concept of circular economy and how it can promote a regenerative and restorative system for economic development and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region. The speakers—who represented the APEC Secretariat, government, academe, and the private sector—presented case studies on sustainable consumption, a vital instrument for a circular economy.

Panelist and APEC Secretariat Policy Support Unit Director Carlos Kuriyama pointed out that mismanaged waste harms people’s health and the economy, and shifting to a circular economy can help minimize waste and optimize resources.

“We can share platforms to facilitate waste access, share use of underutilized materials, make products as a service instead of as sales to do more recycling. [We can also] extend the life of the products and recover resources so that manufacturers can use them again for production processes,” he explained.

Meanwhile, fellow speaker and World Wildlife Fund Project Manager Michael Anthony Santos noted how the country depends on garbage collectors from the informal sector for waste segregation. He suggested pursuing a combination of systems to address the issue.

“This can be done by training the informal sector through partnerships with eco-base foundations. We can train them to have basic skills in business, then pitch their ventures to our corporate partners for funding,” he said.

Associate Dean Ma. Theresa Talavera of the University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Human Ecology offered another perspective on addressing the waste problem by focusing on transforming the food system. She shared that circular economy principles can improve the “broken” food system.

“Food, as the basic resource for life, highlights the need for a comprehensive goal. It can be achieved by reducing food waste, promoting healthy and balanced nutrition, raising society’s awareness of responsible food consumption, and developing policies on food consumption by authorities while ensuring the sustainability of food consumption,” she said.

She concluded that “food consumption is part and parcel of the whole food system; as food moves from production to consumption or from ‘farm to table’, the physical and biological environments must be considered as it will affect the quality and distribution of food and subsequently food safety and nutrition.”

View the hybrid symposium’s photo album here.

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