House Minority Leader Benny Abante Jr. lauded the national government for “leading by example” after the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) issued a resolution banning the use of single-use plastics in all government offices, saying on Tuesday that the move highlighted the need to pass a law to permanently prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale, and use of single-use plastic products in the country. 

NSWMC Chair and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu signed NSWMC Resolution No. 1363, Series of 2020 on February 12. The issuance directs the DENR to prepare and implement the ban on the use of unnecessary single-use plastic products by national government agencies, local government units (LGUs), and all other government-controlled offices.

“Such a measure “is way overdue given the damage caused by single-use plastics to the environment.”

The plastic products covered by the prohibition are cups less than 0.2 millimeter in thickness, drinking straws, coffee stirrers, spoons, forks, knives, “labo” or thin and translucent plastic bags, and thin-filmed sando bags lower than 15 microns.

“This is a step in the right direction and, I believe, a signal to those of us in Congress to pass a law to prohibit the use of single-use plastics in our country,” said Abante, the author of House Bill No. 3773 or the “Single-use Plastic Product Ban of 2019.”

If passed, HB No. 3773 would prohibit the “manufacture, importation, sale, and use of all single-use products” one year after the effectivity of the law. 

The measure defines single-use plastic as “disposable plastic products which are commonly used for packaging and include items to be used only once that are thrown away or recycled.” Examples of these products are grocery bags, food packaging containers and bags, water bottles, straws, stirrers, styrofoam, cups, sachets, and plastic cutlery.

The lawmaker representing the 6th District of Manila stressed that such a measure “is way overdue given the damage caused by single-use plastics to the environment and the amount of single-use plastic that we produce each year.”

Abante pointed out that the Philippines produces 2.7 million metric tons of plastic each year and is estimated to have the 3rd highest rate of mismanaged plastic waste in the world.

According the the legislator, “this can be attributed to the fact that ours is what is called a ‘sachet economy,’ meaning we buy many products in small quantities.”

“As a result, data shows that we use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets daily, or around 60 billion sachets a year. Many of these used sachets find their way to our seas, as studies shockingly show that 80% of ocean plastics come from land-based sources––not from fishing vessels or the fisheries sector,” explained Abante. 

“We have to find the will and the wherewithal to end these practices, or our children and grandchildren will be wading and swimming in beaches that have more plastic than fish.”

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