Senator Francis Pangilinan on Thursday appealed to local manufacturers to start being "green" this year and produce alternatives to single-use plastics.
Pangilinan said manufacturers in the Philippines should take the cue from consumer giants that have already switched to plant-based plastics that can break down within a shorter period.
"Magandang opportunity itong pandemya dahil sobrang dami ng mga nagpapa-take-out o nagpapadeliver. Kung merong biodegradable alternatives, tiyak na magiging matagumpay ito (This pandemic is a good opportunity because many people are now opting for take-outs or deliveries. If there are biodegradable alternatives, I'm sure that they will succeed),” he said in a statement.
The senator called for the passage of his Senate Bill 40, which proposes a ban on the use, manufacture, and importation of single-use plastic and seeks to encourage the research and development of biodegradable alternatives.
He said it would also incentivize individuals and groups, including businesses, that manufacture biodegradable alternatives under the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008, the Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise Act of 2002, the Magna Carta for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987, or the Green Jobs Act of 2016.
The bill is pending with the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change, chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar.
Likewise, Pangilinan called on the consumers to reduce their use of single-use plastics and bring reusable utensils and containers.
"Pag makakabuti sa health ng ating environment, makakabuti rin sa health natin ito (If this benefits the health of our environment, this benefits our health, too)," he said.
Citing a 2015 study by the United Nations Environment Programme, Pangilinan said Filipinos produce about 6.2 million kilos of plastic waste every day, 81 percent of which end up in the ocean.
Pending the passage of the proposed Single-Use Plastics Regulation and Management Act, he said: "Marami na tayong pwedeng gawing mga simpleng bagay para sa kalikasan. Gumamit tayo ng mga alternatibo kagaya ng mga eco bag at i-recycle din natin and mga plastic sa tahanan (We can already do several, simple things for our environment. Let us use alternatives like eco bags and recycle plastics in our home)."