New bill seeks to ban single-use plastic

In the course of time, plastic has become a customary part of Filipinos’ daily life. From drinking to eating and to personal doings, people’s undertakings depend mainly on this buoyant material. To note, one plastic used seems to be of less concern to us until we realize that millions of it are thrown away — everyday. Our reliance to plastics, true to say, has infiltrated our lives.

The deluge of plastics in the country’s rivers, seas, and other waterways posed an alarming threat that detrimentally affects our marine ecosystems. Over time, this top pollutant has endangered marine biodiversity. In the country, around 2.7 million metric tons of plastic wastes such as plastic bags, coffee cups, bottled waters, straws, and food packaging or wrappers are being mismanaged every day, which mostly wind up in the ocean. Thus, this prevalent issue calls for a strong measure.

With the incessant rise of global production and consumption of plastics, it is but proper to put into law long-term solution to end this perennial problem. Among the bills that have been filed to curb this environmental challenge is Senator Loren Legarda’s proposed Senate Bill 1948 or the “Single-Use Plastics Regulation and Management Act of 2018.”

This bill seeks to regulate the manufacturing, importation, and use of single-use plastic products or those that are used once before discarded. It also provides penalties, levies, and incentives for industries, businesses, and consumers. Furthermore, this measure intends to phase out single-use plastics in the country by prohibiting importation and use in food establishments, stores, markets, and retailers.

The need to ban single-use plastics is one of the effective and immediate ways to reduce waste especially as Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment singled out the Philippines as one of five major countries that contribute to plastic wastes along with China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
With the said bill also urging participation of government agencies, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) heeded the call as it already banned single-use plastic within its arm. Among its personnel and staffs, PIA Director-General Harold E. Clavite offered alternatives to single-use plastic such as utilization of personalized tumblers, mugs, and other eco-friendly items to eradicate consumption of plastic waste.

Continuous practice of garbage segregation and proper waste disposal by reusing, reducing and recycling were also in effect within the agency as an effective and efficient step towards curtailing usage of plastic. PIA sees this action as a contribution to save the environment as well as making the oceans sustainable for future generation.

This significant move of government agencies and institutions and the strengthened enforcement of Republic Act (RA) No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act are set to be a valuable approach towards solving plastic pollution coinciding with the attainment of United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.

Still, while there are laws and regulation towards single-use plastic, it is important that these are strictly implemented and enforced. At the end of the day, it is still the public’s engagement and support towards this endeavour that will greatly contribute to the reduction of plastic wastes’ impact not just in the environment, but most importantly, in our lives, too. (Story by EEDC / Graphics by AMN / PIA-CG)

SOURCE: Eunice E. Dela Cruz (2018). call for a stronger measure against single-use plastic. Published on December 18, 2018.