My Two Cents: Welcome Solutions Wherever They Come From
Notes from the Field By Richard de Guzman, Former Standards and Compliance Manager
For the longest time, the Philippines has been known to be two things: (1) home to the most beautiful islands in the world and (2) one of the largest marine plastic contributors in the world. It’s ironic, isn’t it? How can a country be home to such paradise and simultaneously be one of the biggest offenders that can destroy it?
The Seeds of Solution
I came across the Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX) in March 2020, the onset of COVID-19, and was inspired by the organization’s advocacy, as well as the founder’s (Nanette Medved Po’s) grounded understanding that plastic is both an environmental and social problem. With over 19.99 million Filipinos living below the poverty threshold, the country largely relies on small plastic packs, such as sachets, which sadly contribute to the plastic crisis.
Like many voices in the world, PCX understood that something must be done but it was adamant that something credible must be done TODAY. While everyone else was still figuring out a way to go about plastic offsetting, PCX was already able to come out with the Plastic Neutral Pact, an actionable standard that early adopters took to build a credible and verifiable plastic offsetting/plastic crediting program.
Fast forward to July 2020, I was fortunate to have joined PCX as their Sustainable Community Development Manager. This role has allowed me to be involved in how the development of the organization’s pioneering standards. PCX has since updated the Plastic Neutral Pact to be the Plastic Pollution Reduction Standards (PPRS), which continuously adapts based on our learnings from stakeholders to create comprehensive solutions that meaningfully address the plastic crisis.
Scaling Action through Global Cooperation
Just last month, September 2022, I was privileged to share our inspiration and experience at PCX at two international conferences, namely the (1) International Solid Waste Association World Congress in Singapore and (2) 7th International Marine Debris Conference in Busan, South Korea. Through these events, I was able to share some salient points of PCX’s PPRS, the world’s first plastic credit standard.
We shared our experience in driving grassroots-driven campaigns while providing technology-driven innovations to ensure the traceability and transparency of every plastic credit awarded. The presentations also focused on how these solutions are scalable (see PCX Markets!) and that they can be replicated or expanded especially in regions in the world where plastic credits can bridge the gaps in plastic waste management or divert plastic away from nature.]
I was able to meet and interact with people from different backgrounds asking how the standards can be used to solve some of their local issues. It was thrilling that I got to share what we continue to do at PCX, but I realized that more work needs to be done. We need to address the plastic problem the way the world addressed the COVID-19 pandemic – collective action with a sense of urgency!
Speaking of actions – the 7th International Marine Debris Conference closed with a beach clean-up activity as part of the International Coastal Clean Up Day. Volunteers were invited to join the activity at Gwangalli Beach, Busan, South Korea. While on my way there, I was thinking to myself, “I hope I do not find any Filipino brand in this beach miles away from our country” but on second thought “cleaning plastics from nature – wherever they come from, however they turn up, is a big help to nature.” Thus, donning my PCX shirt proudly, I picked up as many plastics as possible from the shore.
Beyond the Standards
Plastic waste management solutions are extremely necessary and turning them into action is needed now. I strongly believe that PCX’s PPRS is one of the many solutions we can adapt and rally behind to steer ourselves in the right direction. I am happy to have shared the organization’s work of love and compassion for the environment with the world.
Operating from one of the epicenters of the problem, PCX offers this homegrown standard that it continues to improve to make positive, meaningful, and lasting environmental and social impact until we become the generation that solves the plastic pollution crisis.
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