Sunday, December 3, 2023

House approves on final reading bill banning single-use plastics

The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on final reading a bill banning single-use plastics to better address pollution linked to these disposable items.

With 190 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and one abstention, the chamber passed on third reading House Bill 9147, which seeks to regulate the production, importation, sale, distribution, provision, use, recovery, collection, recycling, and disposal of single-use plastic products.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, a principal author, said the measure aims to protect life, both land, and water, from hazards posed by plastic pollution and to ensure that non-compostable single-use synthetic plastic products do not leak into nature.

“The measure also provides steps for the eventual phasing out of single-use plastic products, a step that is from all accounts, one in the right direction,” Velasco said.

It also seeks to promote circularity through the reduction, reuse, and recycling of plastic trash.

The bill proposes to phase out within a year the production, importation, sale, distribution, provision, and use of single-use plastic drinking straws, stirrers, candy sticks, balloon sticks, cotton bud sticks, buntings, confetti, and packaging or bags less than 10 microns thick.

It also seeks to phase out within four years single-use plastic items such as tableware, film wrap, packaging or bags less than 50 microns thick, sachets and pouches, oxo-degradable plastics, and styropor food and beverage containers.

The bill mandates the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to formulate within six months a phase-out plan on single-use plastic wastes, with components on reducing consumption, increasing recovery, keeping producers accountable, developing alternatives, and raising awareness.

It shall obligate commercial establishments to promote reusable, recyclable, and retrievable products in their stores, charge P5.00 from customers for every plastic bag or single-use plastic used for take-out food or delivery service, and facilitate customer return of used plastic products to the store.

It seeks to penalize violators with fines ranging from P50,000 up to P500,000 for micro-enterprises and P250,000 up to P1 million for larger businesses.

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