Greenpeace Philippines supports ban on disposable plastics

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The environmental group Greenpeace Philippines on Thursday expressed support to Senator Cynthia Villar’s proposal  to have a national ban on disposable plastic products. 

“A national ban on disposable plastic products is not only very necessary but also doable and practical,”  Greenpeace Philippines stated in reaction to statements made by Villar last Tuesday.

“It’s not impossible to ban single-use plastics. There are already existing local bans on disposable plastic packaging and products in urban centers such as Quezon City, as well as in provinces such as Siquijor,” Greenpeace Campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin said in a statement.

“These plastic bans can be successfully implemented as long as there is strong political will to do so,” said Benosa-Lorin. 

She said alternatives to single-use plastics already exist and the proposed ban should prompt the government to support and promote the development of packaging and delivery systems that do not rely on disposables.

Currently, she said, Filipino taxpayers shoulder the cleanup, health and environmental costs of plastics.

Rather than giving companies more excuses to pass the costs and responsibility to people, the ban should be used to mandate these companies to implement refill and reuse systems for their products, she said.

“The best way to solve the plastic problem is to stop producing plastic in the first place,” Benosa-Lorin said.

“Recycling, upcycling, downcycling, and drastic approaches such as waste incineration do not address the root of the problem, and will only encourage the continued manufacture of single-use plastic which end up as pollution and puts  people’s health and well-being at risk,” she also said. 

Villar, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources recently backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent pronouncement regarding the possibility of a nationwide ban on the use of plastics.

Villar said the possible ban is urgent as she cited a 2015 report on plastic pollution by the international group Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment showing that the Philippines is one of the world’s largest producers of plastic wastes that end up in the ocean.

“With the President taking the lead in this campaign, I am confident we will be making significant headway and finally remove us from that disconcerting title as one of the world’s largest producers of plastic wastes,” Villar said. 

The senator   has filed Senate Bill No. 333 or the Single-Use Plastic Product Regulation Act, which seeks to regulate the manufacturing, importation, and use of single-use plastic products. 

“With our dependence on agriculture, plastic pollution also poses a grave threat to our food security. Disaster risks and hazards arising from plastic pollution may put farms at risk of flooding resulting in wastage of agricultural products along with its threats to a balanced ecology,” Villar said. 

“Microplastics leaked in our bodies of water may also put public health at risk as it gets into our food chain,” Villar added.

The bill proposes to prohibit the issuance of the single-use plastics by food establishments, stores, markets, and retailers. /Stacy Ang

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