The Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, INC. (PCEPSDI), through its Transforming Tourism Value Chains (TVC) project held a Training Webinar titled “Practicing Circular Economy in the Hospitality Sector During COVID-19” on June 29, 2021. The webinar aims for the tourism sector, particularly hotel and MICE partners of the TVC project, to be familiar with current environmental regulations and policy developments, to be aware of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on waste management capacities, and to learn what circular economy is and how to apply it in everyday tourism business operations.
The webinar was organized as a culminating event of the second launch of the TVC project’s Campaign to Phase Out Single-Use Plastics in the Hospitality Sector, which is designed to raise the awareness of hotel management, procurers, staff, tourists and guests in reducing their consumption of problematic single-use plastic items in their establishments while keeping in mind health and safety protocols.
During the webinar proper, Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat from the Department of Tourism provided the Opening Remarks, stating that with the increase in medical waste, “it has become even more important to find other areas where we can reduce or eliminate SUPs”. But how can a circular economy help us achieve this in the first place?
Key speakers from the public and private sectors with different expertise and background enlightened participants on the plastic waste management situation and provided the basics on Circular Economy in the first panel, “Practicing Proper Waste Management through Circular Economy During COVID-19”, and what solutions they can consider to promote circularity in the second panel, “Sustainable Solutions in the Tourism Value Chain”.
Starting the first panel, Ms. Raquel Reyes, Senior Environmental Management Specialist from the Solid Waste Management Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spoke on the effects of COVID-19 on waste management streams and provided regulations of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to manage these wastes.Contributing to the establishment of a policy environment conducive to circular economy here in the Philippines, from the House Committee on Ecology, Committee Secretary Atty. Dilbert Quetulio highlighted the salient provisions of the Single Use Plastic Product Regulation Act (HB 9147). The key principles of Circular Economy and sample case studies of practicing establishments were then discussed by Ms. Eylla Gutierrez, Research Manager of the Asian Institute of Management – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center of Tourism. Considered as a market-based tool for circular economy, the National Ecolabelling Programme – Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP) was introduced by PCEPSDI Programme Officer, Ms. Jouelle Nerveza, who also shared how NELP-GCP can be upscaled and promoted by product and service providers, and institutional and general consumers.
The second panel introduced innovative enterprises that were promoting circularity in their products and service, which tourism businesses can tap to increase sustainability in their operations. Comprising this panel were Ms. Nikki Sevilla, Founder and CEO of EcoNest Philippines, Ms. Rina Papio, Founder of GreenSpace Pilipinas, and Mr. Aljon Gemperoa, Trade Marketing Manager of Quanta Paper Corporation.
Mr. June Alvarez, President & Executive Director of PCEPSDI, provided the Closing Remarks by wholeheartedly thanking the speakers and participants, as well as encouraging everyone to practice the principles of circular economy whenever they can.