Climate of change

Published November 14, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Fil C. Sionil
Fil C. Sionil

From banks to multinational companies, to conglomerates, to small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, to retail to sari-sari stores and street-ambulant vendors, the use of plastics is a crucial component in doing business. Be it in our automated teller machine (ATMs), credit/debit cards, electronic devices, cellular phones, to the packaging of goods. All we just have to do is look around and an array of plastic products will surely greet us.

In my growing-up years, I would look forward to every morning delivery of our staple breakfast drinks of bottled milk and chocolaits. Also, back then, cork was used to seal soda drinks. The use of plastics was just gaining ground despite its discovery in 1898 and the formulation of Bakelite (phenol formaldehyde resin), one of the first plastics made from synthetic components, which was developed by chemist Leo Baekeland in 1907.

Now, the use of plastics is part of our life’s daily routine. Call it plastic products overload. Hence, the country’s ranking as the world’s third-largest ocean polluter, churning yearly an average of 2.7 million tons of plastic rubbish, 20 percent of which, according to a report of Ocean Conservancy charity and the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment, “leaks” into the bodies of water.

It is no wonder incidents of a dying marine animal washed ashore, suffocated by plastic bags, are reportedly increasing. The complete disregard in the proper disposal of used plastics, some of which end up clogging the drainage system, likewise, contributes to the flooding of Metro streets.

President Duterte last week said he was considering prohibiting the use of plastics nationwide. The policy-pronouncement may have a ripple effect in the operations of the petrochemical industry.

There are seven major petrochemical plants in the country that produce various types of plastic resins such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polystyrene (PS), Polypropylene (PP), and Polyethylene (PE).

PVC is used for construction supplies-insulation for electric wires and cables, films and sheets such as shower curtains, table cloths, book covers and other school supplies, and for blood bags and tubings. PS, on the other hand, is used for making cups, fastfood eating utensils, appliance casing and parts, and packaging foam.

While PP is used for making sacks, toys, adhesive tape, pails, furniture, tarpaulins, food containers, ropes, snack packaging. And PE is for shopping bags, garbage bags, sack liners, toys, pallets, crates, housewares, food containers, and lubricating oil containers.

In support of the Palace move, San Miguel Corporation announced Wednesday it will use biodegradable plastics packaging for its products. The diversified food and beverage conglomerate has engaged Philippine Bioresins Corporation, a start-up innovative company that has developed and tested biodegradable plastics. Philippine Bioresins has obtained a stamp of approval from the Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute for its product formulation.

Again, San Miguel is way ahead. A couple of years ago, San Miguel, in unprecedented move, stopped altogether its plastic bottled water business to support the plastic waste reduction program.

Full praises to the President and San Miguel for taking the right path to protect our environment. All of us must be on it, hold hands and come together. We wish the wheels of business will grind to halt the further degradation of mother nature.

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