12 March 2021. Consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. and environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition have jointly urged the government to tackle plastic pollution at source such as by banning single-use plastics (SUPs).

Through a joint statement to mark this year’s World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) on March 15 that has for its theme “Tackling Plastic Pollution,” the non-profit groups highlighted two policy opportunities that can catalyze the beneficial shift to sustainable packaging and product delivery systems in the Philippines.

First is through the enactment of a national legislation banning SUPs by the 18th Congress, and second is via the issuance of the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging (NEAP) in accordance with R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“We need a strong policy in the form of a Republic Act that will provide a general framework, direction and timeline toward phasing out SUPs on a national scale within a reasonable period,” said Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer Inc., a full-term active member of Consumers International, which organizes the annual WCRD to highlight “the power of consumers and their rights for a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for everyone.”

“The adoption of such a law will support and strengthen the efforts by national government agencies, local government units, industries and businesses, civil society groups and consumers to address plastic pollution in an effective and united manner,” he added.

Among the local government units that have adopted ordinances banning or regulating plastic bags and other SUPs include the cities of Antipolo, Cagayan de Oro, Caloocan, Bacolod, Baguio, Batangas, Iriga, Lapu-Lapu, Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Puerto Princesa, Quezon, San Carlos, San Fernando, Santa Rosa, Trece Martires and many other cities and municipalities across the archipelago.

For his part, Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed to the importance of releasing the long-overdue NEAP list, which the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) is required to do one year after R.A. 9003 took effect in 2001.

“The 20-year delay in identifying and consequently banning products and packaging materials that are not environmentally acceptable has sadly led to the massive production of throw-away SUPs that are barely reused or recycled,” said Dizon, noting the mind-boggling amounts of plastic waste and their chemical additives that get dumped, incinerated or disposed of in the oceans.

According to the report “Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean,” the Philippines wastes 6,237,653 kilos of plastic per day, of which 81 percent is mismanaged.

As noted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), “plastic packaging accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste globally, and much of it is thrown away within just a few minutes of its first use,” noting that “our oceans have been used as a dumping ground, choking marine life and transforming some marine areas into a plastic soup.”

As stated by Helena Leurent, Director General of Consumers International: “Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet. Consumer awareness of the plastics crisis is growing around the world. Consumers have a crucial role to shape the marketplace, and we must support them to mobilize businesses and governments, to ensure sustainable consumption is accessible to all.”