For DENR exec, it's necessary to define 'unnecessary' when it comes to plastics

Published August 1, 2021, 4:03 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda believes that part of the solution on the issue on single-use plastics or SUPs–considered a scourge by environmentalists–is to define the word “unnecessary” as it pertains to plastic products.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda (File photo/ Screengrab from Zoom meeting)

This as Antiporda, the alternate chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), spoke during a joint virtual conference on environment-friendly alternative plastics over the weekend.

The outspoken official emphasized during the event DENR’s objective of protecting the environment while balancing the needs of the consuming public in connection with plastic products.

Antiporda pointed out that plastic softdrink straws and plastic coffee stirrers–two products already included on the non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP) list–are deemed unnecessary, thus their status as NEAP.

“Yours truly has been pushing that we really need to come up with a clear definition of the word ‘unnecessary’ to achieve a common ground on the single-use plastics issue. This is to assure the industry that the commission is also against the blanket statement against [single-use plastics],” he said.

“We can understand the concern of the single-use plastic industry but the primary objective of the DENR is the protection of our environment, so we need to act on it, focusing on what is doable and feasible with due regards to the provisions of the law,” he added.

Antiporda further explained that, “As provided by law, we need alternatives for the items being banned; those that are deemed to be unnecessary need no alternative and can be declared as NEAP already.”

As such, coming up with a black and white definition on unnecessary plastic items will aid authorities greatly in implementing the statute, which in this case is the 20-year-old Republic Act (RA) No.9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The NEAP is considered the heart and soul of the law.

Section 2, Rule 12 of the implementing rules and regulations of RA No.9003 states that, “The Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Finance, among others shall encourage national and local governments to produce environmentally preferable products and services.”

The joint conference was organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Department of Finance (DOF), Climate Change Commission (CCC) and DENR. It serves as a venue to see how the Philippines can move forward toward finding alternatives to SUP and see how it can provide solutions and opportunities to the industry and the Philippine society.