Manufacturers of pre-packed beverages should come up with environmentally-friendly designs for their products as a way to eliminate the use of plastic drinking straws.

Instead of an outright ban on the use of plastic drinking straws, Senator Sonny Angara said it would be a better idea for establishments to charge their customers for the use of plastic drinking straws.

Angara has filed Senate Bill 954 or the proposed plastic drinking straw regulation act, which aims to change the habits of consumers, as well as the practices of manufacturers and commercial establishments towards protecting the environment, one step at a time.

Under the bill, all commercial establishments that sell beverages, including sari-sari (barangay convenience stores) stores and supermarkets would be required to charge a “Plastic Straw Fee” amounting to P2 per straw.

Exempted from this fee are plastic straws or tubes used for medical purposes, those used by senior citizens and persons with disabilities, and individuals who have limited mobility caused by stroke, arthritis and other medical conditions.

“Plastic straws will only be provided upon request by the customers.”

“Plastic straws will only be provided upon request by the customers. We should consciously put a stop to the practice of automatically providing straws to customers upon buying their beverages,” the veteran legislator said.

For pre-packed beverages, the most common of which are juice boxes, the bill states that plastic drinking straws should not be attached to the product and should instead be provided at the point-of-sale for the same P2 per straw fee.

“We want the manufacturers to start coming out with new designs so consumers would be able to drink without the use of straws.” 

“We also want the manufacturers of these pre-packed beverages to start coming out with new designs for their products so that consumers would be able to drink these without the use of straws,” the seasoned lawmaker said.

The bill also calls for the establishment of straw disposal and collection facilities in all commercial establishments in order to ensure these would be recycled properly.

Establishments found violating the provisions of the bill would face a fine of up to P10,000 for the first offense, up to P20,000 for the second offense and up to P50,000 plus the cancellation of their business permits for the succeeding offenses.

Proceeds from the plastic straw fee and paid would fines will all go to environmental programs focused on the protection and clean-up of rivers, seas and oceans, including an information and awareness campaign on the effect of plastic drinking straws on aquatic animals and marine ecosystems.

A 2015 report on ocean pollution by the Ocean Conservancy charity and the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment saw the Philippines ranking third in the world among countries which are sources of discarded plastic the end up in the oceans.

Apart from polluting the water bodies, plastic drinking straws also end up being ingested by marine species, thus posing a threat to their survival.

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