Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda has acknowledged the delays in the banning of items on the non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP) list, but insisted that authorities were “doing their best”.
“We’re doing our best to come up with the result of this NEAP which is indicated in RA (Republic Act) No.9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000),” Antiporda said during a virtual press conference on the occasion of DENR’s 34th anniversary Thursday, June 10.
Antiporda, the alternate chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), mentioned a few reasons for the delays, specifically the difficulty in gathering signatures from agency heads on the NEAP and the “slow” pace of related research.
“We have already came up with the recommendation that softdrink straws and coffee stirrers be banned as non-environmentally acceptable products. It’s now under the process of [gathering] signatures of the members of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, wherein inter-agency po ito (this is an inter-agency activity),” the undersecretary said.
“Napirmahan na po ito ng ating kalihim Roy Cimatu at hinihintay na lang po yung pirma po ng iba pa hong kalihim (DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu has already signed this, and we’re just waiting for the signatures of the other secretaries),” he said.
Other agencies that are involved with the NSWMC include the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH), and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
“Please bear with us, because of this pandemic medyo nade-delay lang po ng konti yung mga signature (this pandemic has caused a delay with the signatures), but it’s under process and it will be released as soon as possible para po ma implement na ito (so that this would finally be implemented),” Antiporda said.
Plastic straws and stirrers were the first two items to be included on the NEAP list as per a draft resolution of the NSWMC last February.
Green groups quickly pointed out that this wasn’t enough, as there are a host of other single-use plastics that do more harm to the environment.
Antiporda said in the same presser that the NSWMC has already referred other single-use plastics to the DOST for proper research before they can be declared as NEAP.
“During the last NSWMC meeting, tinurnover po ito sa DOST para po sa immediate research on this. Actually nagkaroon na rin po naman ng mga research sila, but again, hindi ho ganun kabilis yung result (There were turned over to the DOST for the purpose of immediate research during the last NSWMC meeting. Actually they have carried researches, but again, the results haven’t arrived as fast),” he noted.
The DENR official explained why a “research” needs to be carried out in connection with NEAP.
“We need to refer it kasi its indicated in RA No.9003 that we need to conduct thorough research before coming up with the declaration of NEAP. Hindi ho pwedeng indiscriminately eh i-deklara po natin ito dahil marami rin pong tatamaan especially the Juan dela Cruz na nakikinabang po dito, especially mga plastic bags na yan (We can’t indiscriminately declare items as NEAP because many common people, the Juan dela Cruz, will be affected since they benefit from these items, especially plastic bags).
“Again, we are doing our best na mai-deklara na po yung mga tamang i-deklara dahil yan po yung sinasaad ng batas natin (We are doing our best to come up with correct declarations as provided for by the law),” Antiporda said.
Thin-film plastic, more commonly known as “plastik labo”, was among the single-use plastics that have recently been referred to the DOST, Antiporda bared. This type of plastic is primarily used to pack food.
“Yan yung una nating binigyan ng pansin. Kapag ganitong thin-film…(Thin-film plastic was among those that we initially focused on)…it only ends up in our sanitary landfills or waterways,” he said.
Once finalized, the NEAP list must appear on a major publication. The ban on the listed items will officially take effect one year after the publication, Antiporda said.