PH urged to update list of pollution-causing products

Published November 17, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Philippine government was called out for failing to implement some provisions in the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, 18 years after since the law was passed.

International organization Oceana disclosed that the Philippines’ National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) has yet to release the long-overdue list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging.

Passed in 2001, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or Republic Act (RA) 9003 prohibits the use of non-environmentally sound products and packaging materials.

Section 5 (p) of RA 9003 requires NSWMC to formulate and update a list of non-environmentally acceptable materials in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

“For this purpose, it shall be necessary that proper consultation be conducted by the Commission with all concerned industries to ensure a list that is based on technological and economic viability,” the law said.

Oceana Vice President Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said the Commission’s mandate has remained “unfulfilled since 2001” and urged the Philippine government to finally come up with the “list of Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products and Packaging (NEAP), single-use plastic included.”

Her statement came after the announcement of Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo that President Rodrigo Duterte is considering to ban the use of plastics in the country.

Oceana, for its part, urged the government to include single-use plastics in the updated NEAP list. This includes plastic fork, knives, coffee cup lids, straws, amenity shampoo, etc.

“We call on the President to require the National Solid Waste Management Commission, which is under its Office, to submit a list of items that are unsafe in production, use, post-consumer use, or that produce or release harmful by-products when discarded, with single-use plastics on top of the list. This legal obligation is now eighteen years overdue,” said Ramos.

Under RA 9003, the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials and the importation of consumer products packaged in non-environmentally acceptable materials is also prohibited.

“The delayed implementation of this law hampers the regulation on the use and consumption of single-use plastics that greatly contributed to unimaginable volume of wastes in our oceans. Holding the record of the world’s third largest ocean polluter is not something we, Filipinos, should be proud of,” Ramos further said.

A data from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) showed that almost 164 million pieces of sachets are used in the Philippines daily, equating to around 59.7 billion pieces of sachets yearly.

It also specified that almost 57 million shopping bags are used throughout the country everyday, or roughly 20.6 billion pieces a year, while around three million diapers are being discarded on a daily basis. That’s 1.1 billion diapers annually.

Last year, Senator Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said she wants to amend RA 9003 “and modernize some of its provisions.”

“The country’s problem on plastic waste is alarming. We are the third biggest producer of plastic and it endangers our food security because if fishes accidentally ate them, they will die,” Villar said.

Villar said she’s looking to amend the law in a way that there should be “extended producers’ responsibility.” Through that, if a company produced a product, then it’s also its responsibility to retrieve the waste.

Based on Villar’s presentation, companies that were contributing largely to the solid waste problem of the Philippines are Universal Robina Corp. (URC), Liwayway Marketing Corporation, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Monde Nissin Corporation, and Zest-O Corporation.