1 February 2021, Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition and Oceana Philippines urged the national government to roll out a long-overdue policy that could help the country leapfrog to a zero waste and toxic-free circular economy.
The groups specifically asked the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), an inter-agency body under the Office of the President, to release the list of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP) for prohibition as required under Section 29 of R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. The commission should have prepared the said list one year after R.A. 9003 took effect in 2001.
The groups also pushed for the implementation of Section 30 of the same law, which should have illegalized the sale or conveyance of products placed, wrapped or packaged in non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials.
“After two decades, the NSWMC has yet to produce the list of NEAP for phase-out and eventual elimination,” lamented Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “It’s time for the commission to work doubly hard in order to get a game-changing list out by this year to reduce both the volume and toxicity of our discards,” she emphasized.
“The commission’s inability to fast track the formulation of such list has badly affected the efforts of local government units, communities and households to achieve zero waste with the unrestrained production, distribution, consumption and disposal of products and packaging materials that are too difficult to recycle due to their chemical composition,” she added.
Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice-President of Oceana Philippines, likewise scored the NSWMC for failing to prioritize the formulation of the NEAP list in the face of the country’s ballooning waste production that is also contaminating the world’s oceans.
“We strongly urge the NSWMC to draw up the long-overdue list of products that are ‘unsafe in production, use, post-consumer use, or that produce or release harmful by-products when discarded,’ with single-use plastics (SUPs) on top of the list,” she said.
“The effect would be a tremendous reduction at the source of plastic pollution as production, use and trade of SUPs as a NEAP will be prohibited, with a hefty fine and other sanctions,” she added.
The adoption of the NEAP list and its subsequent implementation, the EcoWaste Coalition and Oceana Philippine said, will spur investments in product redesigns and delivery systems that will ultimately reduce, if not eradicate, the use of toxic chemical additives and the generation of waste.
Aside from throw-away plastics such as plastic bags, bottles, sachets, straws, stirrers and other SUPs, the groups also insisted on the inclusion in the NEAP list of items containing “substances of concern” that can expose people and the ecosystems to such harmful chemicals.
As noted in the report “Plastic’s Toxic Additives and the Circular Economy,” published by multiple UN convention groups and other organizations, including the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), “while the general issue of pollution by plastics has received growing attention, there has so far been less attention given to the additives.”
“Many of the additives are potentially toxic, and some meet the definition of being persistent organic pollutants (POPs),” the report said. “They pose a risk to the environment and to human health when they leach out of plastic debris.”
“Additives are also problematic in recycling, and their use is a potential barrier to making progress towards a circular economy,” the report concluded.