‘Whole-of-gov’t approach’: DOST, DOF, DENR, CCC vow to end single-use plastics

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) together with partner-agencies and institutions committed Friday, July 30, to end the country’s dependence on single-use plastics by seeking better alternatives to these products while also promoting sustainable development, and economic viability.

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)

The pledge was made by the DOST, the Department of Finance (DOF), Climate Change Commission (CCC), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the Joint Conference on Environment-Friendly Alternative Plastics hosted by the DOST -Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) on Friday, July 30.

“While the country has been labeled as a sachet economy mainly due to the “tingi” system that we have subsisted throughout the years, it is time to move on and discover and develop other materials, which possess the same properties as plastic and suitable for certain uses, but would be less threatening to the environment,” DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña said in his message.

“We believe in a science-based approach in finding alternatives to plastics, giving utmost consideration to environmental protection, sustainable development, economic viability, and social acceptability.”

He noted that in the last decade, the DOST has allotted a total of P532 million to support over 146 projects to respond to the plastic waste problem.

“We have ongoing collaborations with other government agencies, the academe, and industry in providing appropriate technologies, programs, and projects for this undertaking, and we are willing to partner with stakeholders who will support our mission to protect the environment,” de la Peña said.

“We at the DOST believe that this is a good opportunity to strengthen scientific and technological research and deepen collaborations.”

In collaboration with the DOF, CCC, and the DENR, the DOST sought to provide alternatives to single-use plastics in the market and accelerate the search for substitutes through research and development.

During the event, DOF Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, concurrent CCC chairperson-designate, cited the need to urgently adopt a national policy banning single-use plastics as its share to global efforts to stop the unbridled plastics pollution of the world’s oceans.

Dominguez laments the results of an international study putting seven of our country’s rivers in the list of Top 10 plastic polluters of oceans, describing it as a “national shame”.

“We need to be innovative and creative. It is high time for the government, industries, businesses, and advocates to work together to develop better alternatives. By not consuming plastics, our people will be able to do their part on a daily basis in saving the world’s environment,” he said.

DOST Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit threw his all-out support to harmonized pursuit in protecting the environment through research, development, and innovations.

“As we gear towards achieving environmental sustainability by substituting single-use plastics with ecologically neutral alternatives, we shall put out more efforts to collaborate with our partners in government, the academe and the industry to ensure that we will come up with viable solutions to address the challenges brought by single-plastics use," he said.