Proposed single-use plastics ban 'very favorable' to plastic producers, says Greenpeace

Published August 10, 2021, 2:08 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Ban Bill that was recently passed on third and final reading by the House of Representatives favors plastic producers more than anything else.

Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Marian Ledesma (Screengrab from Zoom meeting)

Thus, said Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Marian Ledesma on Tuesday, Aug. 10, in reference to House Bill (HB) No.9147.

“It’s clearly very favorable for the producers of plastic because if you look at the bill that [Congress] has, there are many provisions that allow for them to circumvent any bans by doing end-of-life approaches [like] waste management, recovery. And it doesn’t really address the main issue here where they still are responsible also for impacts of their products and goods from the very beginning,” Ledesma said during a virtual press briefing that was attended by fellow representatives from environmental protection groups.

These included EcoWaste Coalition, Oceana Philippines, and the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP).

Ledesma noted how inputs from such groups were practically ignored by congressmen during the technical working group (TWG) discussions that were carried out on HB No.9147. The House gave its final approval to the measure last July 28.

As such, Ledesma appealed to the upper legislative chamber–the Senate–to craft a “more stringent bill” to counter the “problematic” House bill.

“There are a lot of options and solutions that, while they are mentioned in passing in the [House] bill, the bill really needs to be focused on these kinds of interventions as opposed to just looking at waste management, waste recovery…We should have a lot of precautionary principles when approaching any legislation and any of these operations that already have harms in the very first stages of making plastics, they have to be stopped and really regulated,” she noted.

Environmental protectors believe that once plastic is produced, it stays with us forever. SUPs are supposedly the worst kind, given how it accelerates volume of waste in the environment.

(Photo from the EcoWaste Coalition)

Ledesma also said that certian provisions of HB No.9147 go against the 20-year-old Republic Act (RA) No.9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which–much the environmentalists’ dismay–haven’t been properly implemented.

“One of the main clashes between the two pieces of legislation is the House bill currently allows for thermal treatment, which is essentially just burning plastic. And that is something that is banned under RA No. 9003. So it’s very specific that incineration is illegal…but the House bill does provide sort of a loophole that can be exploited by [plastic] producers and those waste management services by saying that it’s ‘thermal treatment’ instead.

“By passing this House bill, you’re basically inconsistent with an already existing law,” she said, adding that thermal treatment and incineration have “essentially the same risks when it comes to health and environment”.

More over, the Greenpeace campaigner claimed that the definition of SUP in the House bill doesn’t jibe with that of RA No.9003, particularly on the concept of NEAPP.

“The definition of single-use plastic in any proposed bill should be aligned to the non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging or NEAPP definition in the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” she stressed.

“Looking at the NEAPP definition, single-use plastics can be considered unsafe because plastics release harmful emissions and environmental contamination in its production, use, and post-consumer disposal. Not recognizing this would be irresponsible of lawmakers and a failure to carry out existing laws,” she said.