Environmental groups insist policy vs. single-use plastics in gov’t offices should be stricter » Manila Bulletin News

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Environmental groups insist policy vs. single-use plastics in gov’t offices should be stricter

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By Chito Chavez

Quezon City-based environmental group EcoWaste Coalition has concurred with other cause-oriented organizations that the ban on single-use plastics (SUPs) in government offices is insufficient.

While acknowledging that the ban on SUPs was a move in the right direction, the group insisted on the need to promote a comprehensive approach to the plastic pollution crisis.

The group also challenged the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to lead the nation in promoting innovative alternative product packaging and delivery models and systems to cut dependence on SUPs.

Reacting to the recent adoption of NSWMC Resolution 1363, series of 2020, which will ban some, not all, SUPs from government offices, environmental groups Break Free From Plastic, EcoWaste Coalition, and Mother Earth Foundation dared Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu as NSWMC chairperson to re-think the limited scope of the policy to reduce plastic pollution.

The resolution directs the DENR to prepare and implement the prohibition on the use of “unnecessary SUPs” by the offices of national government agencies, local government units, and all other government-controlled offices as a “solid waste avoidance and minimization strategy.”

“Seriously missing in the scope of the policy is the approach to prevent single-use and throw-away packaging, when the government should be in a leadership position to implement alternative product packaging and delivery models and systems,” the groups noted.

“The ban, as it currently stands, will only cover plastic cups lower than 0.2 mm in thickness, plastic labo and thin-filmed sando bags lower than 15 microns, as well as plastic drinking straws, coffee stirrers, spoons, forks, and knives,’’ the group said.

“The policy is inadequate, full of loopholes, and could probably result in the use of more crappy plastic packaging nationwide. Contrary to the rationale being used by the DENR to justify this policy, there are practical and cheaper alternatives available for most SUPs being banned in other countries as well.

“The DENR should learn from the policy and implementation experiences of other countries that have instituted bans on SUPs instead of protecting the interests of plastics manufacturers using the guise of ‘affordability’ or economic arguments,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator, Break Free From Plastic.

“Despite the availability of practical alternatives, we’re surprised not to see single-use plastic bottles, polystyrene food and beverage containers, and sachet-packed products listed among the target SUPs to be banned in government offices as these materials are among the top polluting discards we regularly find in cleanups and waste audits,” noted Aileen Lucero, national coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

”Considering the inadequacy of the NSWMC resolution, we urge the government to come up with a truly meaningful, comprehensive national policy on SUPs, which also covers the single-use, throwaway packaging question — and not cosmetic, half-baked proposals which do nothing significant to address the scale of the problem,” suggested Sonia Mendoza, chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

READ MORE: Single-use plastic banned in all government offices

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