Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda urged the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to formulate a list of non-environmentally acceptable products for prohibition.
Legarda said Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, provides that the commission must prepare the list a year after the effectivity of the law, but not one product has been listed after nearly two decades since the measure was passed.
“The Commission should list the items in their Resolution and substantially add more to reduce the pollution to a significant degree,” she said.
Legarda, however, lauded the NSWMC for issuing a resolution banning the use of single-use plastics in all government offices.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu signed NSWMC Resolution No. 1363, Series of 2020, which bans the use “unnecessary” single-use plastic products particularly cups less than 0.2 millimeter in thickness, drinking straws, coffee stirrers, spoons, forks, knives, “labo” or thin and translucent plastic bags, and thin-filmed sando bags lower than 15 microns.
Legarda cited a study that the Philippines is the third biggest contributor to plastic pollution in the ocean despite a waste management law being passed 19 years ago, stressing that the policy’s implementation must be improved significantly.
“This would be an important first step to a sea change in the supply chain and the economic arrangements that have made single-use plastic freely available. When government desists from the purchase of something undesirable, changes immediately happen in the market,” she said.
“Audits should henceforth also be not just financial but on the sustainability of practices and spending because if waste is not reduced, it would be the government that will bear the rising cost and burden of disposal”, she added.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. called for the immediate passage of a measure seeking to permanently prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale, and use of single-use plastic products in the country.
He said House Bill No. 3773 would prohibit the “manufacture, importation, sale, and use of all single-use products” one year after the effectivity of the law.
The measure defines single-use plastic as “disposable plastic products which are commonly used for packaging and include items to be used only once that are thrown away or recycled.”
Examples of these products are grocery bags, food packaging containers and bags, water bottles, straws, stirrers, styrofoam, cups, sachets, and plastic cutlery.
Abante said such a measure “is way overdue given the damage caused by single-use plastics to the environment and the amount of single-use plastic that we produce each year.” (PNA)