DOST to look into life cycle of single-use plastics, alternatives in PH

Published July 1, 2021, 11:59 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Department of Science and Technology is expected to conduct a life cycle assessment of single-use plastics and their alternatives in the country.

Assorted wastes were recovered during a river clean-up and brand audit at the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed in Baguio District, Davao City last September 26. (Photo courtesy of Interface Development Interventions/ MANILA BULLETIN)

During a virtual presser on Thursday, July 1, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina L. Guevara said a new research and development (R&D) initiative on the “end of life cycle analysis of single use plastics” will be conducted to “look into the economic and life cycle assessment of specific single-use plastic vis-à-vis its alternatives to help in the crafting of responsive policies to manage environmental implications from the use of such materials.”

The initiative will be implemented by DOST- Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), headed by Dr. Annabelle V. Briones.

Briones disclosed that their Institute, with the support of DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), is starting a life cycle assessment (LCA) of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAPs) and their alternatives.

“Considering the recommendation of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) evaluating plastic spoons, forks, knives, and plastic bags with less than 15 microns thickness, DOST-ITDI, with the support of DOST-PCIEERD, is now commencing a life cycle assessment (LCA) of these materials and their alternatives,” she said.

“Aside from LCA, DOST-ITDI researchers shall also consider the potential economic impact of regulating or banning these single-use plastics. Effects on hygiene on the use of these materials shall also be evaluated to ensure no detrimental impacts on human health,’ she added.

Briones explained that life cycle assessment is one of the tools identified as a possible basis for NEAP declaration.

“The results in the conduct of a life cycle assessment of products/packaging materials and their alternatives could help policymakers on future actions pertaining to materials that may be declared as non-environmentally acceptable products under RA (Republic Act) 9003. Moreover, the outcome may benefit different stakeholders to make necessary modifications in their importation, manufacture, processing, distribution, sale, and post-consumer activities,” she said.

The NEAP list is one of the key provisions of the Republic Act (RA) No.9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The law mandates the NSWMC, chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to prepare a list of NEAPs within a year after the law’s effectivity and to update the list annually.

The DOST is one of the agency members of the Commission.

“In implementing the Economic and Life Cycle Analysis (ELCA) of Single-Use Plastics in the Philippines, the DOST-ITDI research team shall utilize the mixed methods research for investigating processes and systems as health care and the environment in general. Quantitative methodologies shall be used to address research questions about causality, generalizability, or magnitude of effects,” Briones said.

“On the other hand, qualitative methods shall explore why or how a phenomenon occurs, develop a theory, or describe the nature of an individual’s experience,” she added.

She said DOST-ITDI ensures the management of the three legs of sustainable development in the conduct of its ELCA.

“The study on the Economic and Life Cycle Analysis (ELCA) of Single-Use Plastics in the Philippines shall address environmental protection and economic growth, and social well-being of the current and future generations,” Briones said.