Appeal to Duterte: Address single-use plastics regulation before term ends | Inquirer Opinion
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Appeal to Duterte: Address single-use plastics regulation before term ends

/ 04:05 AM May 25, 2022

With only a few weeks left before the end of President Duterte’s term, let’s take a look back at the timeline of this administration’s efforts to regulate single-use plastics.

2019: Mr. Duterte warmed up to the idea of a plastic ban. One hundred eighteen representatives authored regulations on single-use plastic in the House of Representatives from 2019 to 2021. Seven senators authored regulations on single-use plastic in the Senate.

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2020: The National Solid Waste Management Commission released NSWMC Resolution No. 1363 (S. 2020), a resolution directing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ban unnecessary single-use plastic in government-controlled offices. A bill on extended producers responsibility (EPR) was filed in the Senate.

2021: The NSWMC released NSWMC RN 1428 (S. 2021) a resolution declaring plastic (a) soft drink straw and (b) stirrer as nonenvironmentally acceptable products and packaging (NEAPP). House Bill No. 9147 or Single-Use Plastic Products Regulation Act was passed by the House. Three bills on EPR were filed in the House. Separate bills on EPR and single-use plastic were filed in the Senate. HB 10696, which institutionalizes the practice of EPR on plastic products and amends Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, was passed on third reading.

FEATURED STORIES

The Senate consolidated bills on single-use plastic and EPR through Senate Bill No. 2425, which was passed on third reading. During the high-level segment of the United Nations Conference of the Parties, Finance Secretary and Climate Change Commission chair Carlos G. Dominguez III “urged the Filipino people to do their part on a daily basis in saving the world’s environment” and stated that the administration is “pushing for a law banning single-use plastics.”

In September 2021, the guidelines on the phasing out of NEAPP were included in the agenda of the NSWMC’s en banc meeting. To date, however, the NSWMC still hasn’t released guidelines on phasing out these materials. Notably, RA 9003 prohibits the manufacture, distribution or use, and importation of NEAPP.

The 18th Congress is set to discuss the EPR bills. We note, however, that the current versions of the bill are problematic. The bills do not truly address the plastic and climate crisis. Environmental groups submitted a position paper to the 18th Congress, emphasizing that without concrete plans and policies on banning single-use plastic, EPR will not lessen plastic waste. Even countries with institutionalized EPR schemes are still struggling with the volume of waste. Moreover, the bill also fails to emphasize waste reduction and minimization at source as required by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

To date, there is no concrete plan or policy on a just transition to minimize and phase out single-use plastic. Clearly, addressing single-use plastic has not been a priority of the administration. Plastic fuels the climate crisis and this lack of urgency just adds to the worsening condition of our environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition calls on Mr. Duterte to immediately act to regulate and/or ban single-use plastics. As his term ends, we call on the President to be mindful of the legacy he will leave on serious environmental issues.

COLEEN SALAMAT
Plastic Solutions Campaigner

EcoWaste Coalition

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TAGS: Coleen Salamat, Letters to the Editor, Rodrigo Duterte, single-use plastics ban
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