Single-use plastics should have been classified as environmentally unacceptable

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE TIMELY inclusion of single-use plastics in a list of products deemed environmentally unacceptable would have precluded the need to move for a ban on the products, Greenpeace Philippines said.

“Having or including single-use plastics in a NEAPP (non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging) list under (Republic Act) 9003 would have curbed the need for a single-use plastic ban, if it had been released and enforced as it was 20 years ago,” Greenpeace Philippines Zero Waste Campaigner Marian Frances T. Ledesma said in a briefing Tuesday.

Products listed as NEAPP are considered harmful for the environment, and cannot be manufactured, distributed and used.

Under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or RA 9003, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) is required to release the list within a year of the law’s effectivity and provide yearly updates.

However, the complete list has not been released, with the Environment department announcing plastic straws and coffee stirrers as the first two such products on the NEAPP.

Two weeks ago, the Congress approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 9147 or the proposed Single-Use Plastic Products Regulation Act, which gives a timeline of up to four years for the phase-out of various single-use plastic products, including cutlery, food and beverage containers, sachets and film wrap.

The phase-out plan will be drafted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the NSWMC and other government agencies. The plan will recommend programs addressing consumption, reduction and recovery; hold producers accountable; and identify alternatives to single-use plastics.

The approved bill, Ms. Ledesma said, currently favors plastic producers.

“If you look at the bill that was passed, there are many provisions that allow for them to circumvent any bans by doing end-of-life approaches to waste management and recovery. It doesn’t really address the main issue here where they (will be made) responsible also for impacts (of) their products and goods from the very beginning,” she said.

The bill would require producers and importers of single-use plastics to establish recovery schemes for plastic waste, set up recycling and thermal treatment facilities to dispose of these products and conduct clean-ups of waste that has leaked to coastal regions and public areas.

“Each producer or importer shall recover or offset and divert into value chains and value-adding useful products, whenever possible, at least 50% of their single-use plastic product footprint, three years after the effectivity of this act,” according to the bill. — Angelica Y. Yang

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